The nephew of Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar is among three militants of the outfit killed in an overnight gunfight with forces in Pulwama district, police said on Tuesday.
Quoting a JeM spokesman, a local news agency said Talha Rasheed, a nephew of Azhar , was among the three militants killed in the gunfight with forces in Aglar village of the south Kashmir district. The two other militants killed in the encounter were identified as Mehmood Bhai and Wasim Ahmed Ganai, police said.
Besides the three militants, an army trooper of 44 Rashtriya Rifles (RR) was also killed in the gun battle.
Two other soldiers and a civilian were also injured in the operation that has ended, police said.
The militants had attacked a police check-post in Rajpora on Saturday.
Following intelligence inputs about the presence of militants, troops of the 44 RR, Special Operations Group (SOG) of state police and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) had surrounded the village on Monday evening.
As the cordon was being tightened, the hiding militants fired at the joint team of security forces, police said. The gunfight started late on Monday evening.
Three weapons, including one AK-74, a variation of the AK-47 assault rifle and one US-made M4 carbine colt rifle besides ammunition were recovered from the encounter site, Army’s Major General BS Raju said.
He said besides the NATO forces in Afghanistan, the weapon is used by Pakistan’s special forces, who are likely to have given it to Jaish cadre.
Pictures of a Kashmiri militant posing with the M4 rifle had gone viral on social media.
In New Delhi, Indian Army chief Gen Bipin Rawat told reporters that “such operations will continue.”
“ We will try to neutralise people involved in spreading terrorism. Our focus is to eradicate terrorism; it doesn’t matter if he is Masood Azhar’s nephew or anyone else,” he said.
Earlier this year, the nephew of Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba chief Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi was killed in an encounter in Bandipora district.
According to a report in The Indian Express, Abu Musaib was Lashkar’s divisional commander when he was killed in an encounter in Hajin in January this year.
India, backed by the United States, has been trying to get Azhar on a United Nations list of groups and individuals with ties to al Qaeda, blaming his group for a series of attacks in India, including one on its parliament in 2002 and another last year on an airbase.
Lakhvi, accused by India of masterminding the 2008 Mumbai attacks, is facing trial in Pakistan.
(Featured image: Jaish chief Masood Azhar)