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2 militants, soldier killed in Bijbehara encounter

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Slain include militant whose vehicle was used in Lethpora suicide blast: Police

People rush to the site where an encounter between security forces claimed lives of two militants and a soldier. Photo/Muneeb Ul Islam

Srinagar, Jun 18: Two Jaish-e-Mohammed militants, including one wanted in connection with the Pulwama suicide attack, and an Army soldier were killed in an encounter in south Kashmir's Anantnag district on Tuesday, police said.

The security forces launched a cordon-and-search operation in Marhama area of Bijbehara in the morning following inputs about the presence of militants. The operation turned into an encounter after the militants opened fire on the forces, a police officer said.

An Army soldier Anil Jaswal was injured in the gun-battle and he succumbed to injuries at a hospital, a police spokesperson said.

Two militants were killed in the operation, he said, adding they have been identified as Sajad Ahmad Bhat and Tauseef Ahmad Bhat, residents of Marhama Bijbehara, and were affiliated with the Jaish-e-Mohammed militant group.

Besides several militancy incidents, the official said, Sajad Bhat, son of Mohammad Maqbool Bhat, a resident of Marhama Sangam, was also wanted in connection with the suicide car blast in Lethpora area of Pulwama on February 14 that left 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel dead.

Police in a statement said that as per the material evidence collected during the course of investigation, it was learnt that Maruti Eco vehicle used for carrying out the blast in Lethpora was owned by one Sajad Bhat of Marhama.

“As the news of Sajad’s involvement spread, he escaped and joined proscribed outfit JeM. A picture of Sajad carrying AK-47 rifle was also circulated on social media announcing his joining the militant outfit. Pertinently Tawseef played a key role in recruiting of Sajad to the militant ranks,” police statement said.

It said both of them were part of groups involved in planning and executing series of militant attacks in the area. Several cases were registered against them. Some of the cases registered against Sajad include case FIR No 16/2018 and case FIR No 28/2019 pertaining to Lethpora attack. Cases registered against Tawseef include case FIR No 95/2018, the statement said.

Incriminating material including arms and ammunition has been recovered from the site of encounter. All these materials have been taken into case records for further investigation and to probe their complicity in other cases, it said.

Police also requested the general public to cooperate with police till the encounter site is completely sanitized and cleared of all the explosive materials if any.

Pertinently, on Monday, an Army major and a militant were killed, while another officer and two troopers injured in an encounter between the security forces and the militants in Anantnag district.

On the same day in adjoining Pulwama district, nine Army personnel and two civilians were injured when militants triggered a blast through an improvised explosive device (IED) fitted in a vehicle.

Even as a defence spokesman had sought to downplay the incident claiming that it was a "failed attempt" and except for a "few minor injuries, all troops were safe", two of the soldiers succumbed to injuries on Tuesday, while the others are recuperating at a hospital. The site of the blast was 27 km from the area of the February 14 suicide attack.

Last Wednesday, Jaish-e-Mohammed militants attacked a patrol team of the paramilitary CRPF in Anantnag, killing five personnel. A police officer, Arshad Khan, the SHO of local police station, who had reached the site shortly after the attack, was sprayed with bullets the moment he had stepped out of his bullet-proof vehicle. He was flown to the AIIMS, Delhi, but died on Sunday.

Student’s body recovered from encounter site in Anantnag

Srinagar, Jun 18: The body of a 20-year-old college student was recovered on Tuesday near an encounter site in south Kashmir's Anantnag district, where a militant and an Army officer were killed on Monday, police said.

Nasir Ahmad Mir's body bore bullet wounds and was recovered near the encounter site in Achabal area in the morning, an official said.

The body of Mir, a resident of Checki Achabal, was taken over by the police and sent for post-mortem, the official said.

Major Ketan Sharma and a militant were killed, while another officer and two soldiers were injured in an encounter between the security forces and the militants in Achabal area on Monday, the official added.

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