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Two terrorists behind recent civilian murder killed in Pulwama encounter

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Two soldiers injured, one succumbs

Srinagar: Two terrorists who police say were behind the recent killing of a Kashmiri Pandit were gunned down early Tuesday in an encounter with security forces inside a mosque in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district.

An Army soldier was also killed and another injured.

Security forces cordoned off an area in Padgampora village following a tip-off that at least two armed terrorists were hiding inside the mosque, officials said. The incident, which comes after Sunday’s killing of a Kashmiri Pandit, took place around 1.15 am.

“Security forces exercised extreme restraint given the fact that the two local militants were holed up inside a mosque. We were determined to ensure there was no damage to the mosque,” a senior police officer said.

During the encounter, a soldier working with 55 Rashtriya Rifles received a bullet in his thigh, puncturing a main artery. There was heavy loss of blood and the soldier could not survive, the officer said, adding that another injured soldier has been hospitalized.

Recapping what had happened, he said “one of the terrorists, identified as Aqib Mustaq Bhat, a resident of Malangpora, Pulwama, was killed in the mosque premises. The other, identified as Ajaz Ahmed Bhat, a resident of Syedabad Pastuna Tral, jumped out, possibly from a window, and took refuge in a house close to the mosque.

“His location was tracked through technical surveillance and security forces trapped him inside the house before shooting him dead,” the officer said.

On Sunday, Sanjay Sharma, a bank guard, was shot dead by terrorists barely 100 metres from his home in Achan in Pulwama when he was on his way to the local market. Sharma was rushed to hospital by passersby but he could not be saved.

“Killed #terrorist identified as Aqib Mustaq Bhat of #Pulwama (A category). He initially worked for HM #terror outfit, nowadays he had been working with TRF. #Killer of late Sanjay Sharma #neutralised,” Additional Director General of Police (ADGP), Vijay Kumar tweeted earlier in the day.

A police spokesman in a statement said that Aqib Mushtaq Bhat of Malangpora, Pulwama was a ‘A Category’ terrorist associated with proscribed terror outfit HM and for past few months working with TRF and Aijaz Ahmad Bhat, a ‘C-Category’ terrorist was associated with terror outfit JeM, and also working in coordination TRF. Aqib was active from January 2021 and Aijaz was active since May 2022.

Incriminating materials, arms and ammunition including one AK-47 rifle, one AK-74 rifle, one pistol, three grenades, two pouches, five AK magazines, two pistol magazines, 103 AK rounds, 20 pistol rounds and two Aadhaar cards were recovered from the site of encounter, spokesman said.

“Investigation so far revealed that both the terrorists, although joined through different terrorist organisations, had come together to conspire and attack minorities, outsiders, other vulnerable targets and security forces,” he said.

“They were involved in FIR No. 14/2023 of Police Station Litter concerning the recent killing of Kashmir Pandit Sanjay Pandita at Achan, Pulwama, FIR No 82/2022 of Police Station Pulwama concerning the attack on two outside labourers at Lajoora, FIR No 115/2022 of Police Station Tral concerning the weapon snatching attempt, FIR No 76/2022 of Police Station Tral concerning the OGW module which supported them for grenade lobbing, among many other cases,” police said.

Photo/Javed Khan


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