Five security personnel die as Army eliminates 3 JeM terrorists

Four days after a suicide bombing killed 40 CRPF personnel, security forces today claimed that they have eliminated three top leaders of the Pakistan-backed Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), but at heavy price.

Five security personnel, including a Major, were killed while seven others, including a Brigadier, Deputy Inspector General of Police and a Lieutenant Colonel, were injured in the 18-hour-long gunfight in Pulwama.
A civilian too died during the encounter.
Corps Commander of Chinar Corps KJS Dhillon addressing a joint press with the J&K Police and CRPF in Srinagar today said Jaish-e-Mohammad leadership in the Valley has been eliminated less than 100 hours after the Pakistan-based terror group killed 40 CRPF jawans in the Pulwama attack.
He said three JeM terrorists, including the commander who plotted the Pulwama attack, were killed in the fierce encounter.
Dhillon also warned that “anyone who has picked up a gun will be killed and eliminated”, and urged mothers in Kashmir to ensure their sons abandon militancy. “In a Kashmiri society, a mother has a great role to play. Through you, I would request the mothers of Kashmir to please request their sons who have joined terrorism to surrender and get back to mainstream. Anyone who has picked up the gun will be killed and eliminated, unless he surrenders.”
Lieutenant-General Dhillon said Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency was involved in the attack. "We were tracking down top leadership since the attack. It was being controlled from across by ISI and JeM commanders," he told reporters.
Three Jaish terrorists, including two top commanders believed to be behind the Pulwama terror attack, were killed in Monday’s encounter, in which an Army major and four security forces personnel were martyred. A civilian also was killed in the crossfire. Deputy Inspector General of Police (South Kashmir) Amit Kumar, a Brigadier, a Lt Colonel, a Major and four other ranks of the Army unit which carried out the operation, also suffered injuries.
The gunfight broke out at 12.45 am at populated Pinglena village when joint teams of forces were preparing for a search operation following an input about the presence of Jaish militants in the area. As the cordon was being laid, the Quick Action Team of the Army came under intense fire resulting in injuries to five soldiers, including the Major who was leading the team.
“The officer and three other jawans later succumbed to their injuries,” a defence official said. The four slain soldiers are Major Vibhuti Shankar Dhoundiyal, 33, of Dehradun, Uttarakhand; Havildar Sheo Ram, 36, of Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan; Sepoy Hari Singh, 26, of Rewari, Haryana and Sepoy Ajay Kumar, 27, of Meerut, Uttar Pradesh. Later, a policeman, Head Constable Abdul Rasheed, was also killed.
Two of the slain terrorists were identified as Kamran and Abdul Rasheed alias Ghazi, the so-called divisional commanders of Jaish-e-Mohammed for Pulwama, Tral and Awantipora areas of South Kashmir. The third one was Hilal, a resident of Pinglena in Pulwama.
The Jammu and Kashmir Police had been on the lookout for Ghazi and Kamran after a suicide bomber belonging to the terror group drove his explosives-laden vehicle and detonated himself near a bus carrying CRPF jawans in Lethpora in Pulwama last week.
The Jaish claimed responsibility for the February 14 terror attack that targeted a convoy of 78 vehicles on its way from Jammu to Srinagar. About 2,500 CRPF personnel were on their way to the valley, many returning to work after leave.
The killed civilian was identified as Mushtaq Ahmed.  The forces engaged the militants who were shuttling from one house to another and killed two of them. When the security forces tried to close in on the third, he fired burst injuring three officers. He was cornered towards the evening and killed after the forces launched the final assault.
“It was his firing that left a policeman dead and six others, including Brigadier, 12 Sector Rashtriya Rifles, Harbir Singh, DIG (south Kashmir) Amit Kumar and a Lt Col injured,” a police official said.
Vijay Kumar, adviser to J&K Governor, said two of the slain militants were Pakistani nationals. “Kamran and a local militant, Hilal, were killed. The identity of the third is being verified, though initially probe suggests he is Rashid Bahi alias Gazi Umar, also a Pakistani,” he said.
Police said Kamran had taken over as operational commander of JeM after his predecessor Mufti Waqas was killed in an encounter in February last year.
J&K DGP Dilbag Singh the slain militants had a role in the recent terror bombing. “Details are awaited, but there are fair indications the trio was in one way or the other involved in the attack,” Singh said. The DGP said he had nothing to say about Kamran being an Afghan war veteran.
However, senior security officials in Srinagar suspect that Kamran was involved in planning the terror attack. “For sure, he has some role in the attack as Adil (suicide bomber) was part of his module," said the police officer. 
Soon after the suicide bombing, security agencies had formed multiple teams to track the Jaish members who were involved in planning the attack. A senior police official from Pulwama said many over-ground workers of militants were rounded up. “The questioning of those detained led us to Pinglena village where the militants were hiding,” he said.