Security personnel near the site of encounter with militants at Tahab area of Pulwama district, Sunday, Jan. 30, 2022. (PTI)
Srinagar: Five militants, including a top commander, of the proscribed Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) were killed in separate encounters with the security forces in twin districts of Pulwama and Budgam overnight, officials said here on Sunday.
They identified the slain JeM commander as Zahid Ahmed Wani alias Uzair and said he was one of the masterminds behind the various IED attacks carried out across the Valley in the past few years. "He was a categorised terrorist active since May 2017 and involved in several terror crime cases, including attacks on security forces and civilian atrocities," a statement by the Jammu and Kashmir police here said.
The officials said a Pakistani national Kafeel Bhai alias Chotu killed with Wani in an encounter in Pulwama’s Naira village was active in the twin districts of Pulwama and Shopian for quite some time and was involved in "a series of terror crime cases". Two other militants killed during the clash were identified as Waheed Ahmad and Inayat Ahmed. A fifth man, Bilal Ahmed Khan, was killed in a gunfight with the security forces in Charar-e-Sharief area of the neighbouring Budgam district.
The locals claimed Inayat Ahmed, killed in the Naira gunfight, was the son of the owner of the house where militants had been holed up during a cordon-and-search operation launched jointly by the J&K police’s counter-insurgency Special Operations Group (SOG), the Army’s 55 Rashtriya Rifles and the CRPF’s 182nd and 183rd Battalions late Saturday night.
The police confirmed it but said that he too was a militant killed in the exchange of fire with the security forces. IGP (Kashmir range) Vijay Kumar said that after taking on the hiding militants, Ahmed was asked to surrender "but he along with other terrorists opened fire at the security forces and got killed". He added: "He was a hybrid terrorist."
The IGP also said the house owner is being booked under the relevant sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967 for providing shelter to militants.
He termed the twin operations as "very successful". Endorsing him, the GOC of the Army’s "Victor Force", Lt. Gen. Prashant Srivastava, said the killing of Zahid Wani, who apart from being an IED expert was the main recruiter of local boys into militants’ ranks, in particular "is a big success for the security forces".
The IGP said so far, this month 21 militants, including eight foreigners, have been killed in 11 encounters across the Valley. He said: "Foreigners who were hiding in forests are coming down and settling in civilian areas. With the help of human and technical inputs, we are zeroing in on them and killing them in clean operations".