Pulwama plotter killed

One of the two Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorists killed in a night-long encounter in Jammu and Kashmir’s Tral area was the main conspirator of the Pulwama suicide attack, the police confirmed.

Mudasir Ahmed Khan, alias ‘Mohd Bhai’, was on Sunday identified as the brains behind the February 14 terror strike, a few hours before the encounter started in Tral’s Pinglish area in the evening and went on till the early hours of Monday. It emerged in the morning that he was among the two terrorists whose charred bodies were recovered from the house where they were holed up.

Lt General Kanwal Jeet Singh Dhillon, General Officer Commanding, XV Corps, confirmed this at a joint press conference by the Army, state police and the paramilitary force. CRPF Inspector General (Operations) in Jammu and Kashmir, Zulfiqar Hasan, said, “Mudasir Ahmed Khan was among the two militants killed in the encounter in Tral’s Pinglish area in Pulwama district.”

He, however, refused to term this as avenging the deaths of 44 CRPF jawans in the February 14 terror strike.

The other terrorist killed in the encounter has been identified as a Pakistani national, code-named Khalid. The officers had earlier claimed that the second terrorist was Sajjad Bhat, a JeM operative whose car was used in the Pulwama attack. But Bhat’s brother refused to take the body, saying it was charred beyond recognition.

Khan’s body has been taken by his family members, the officers said.

A lesser-known Jaish terrorist, Khan, 23, was an electrician with a graduate degree and lived in Mir Mohalla, Tral. He joined JeM in 2017 as an overground worker and eventually became a key IED handler. Noor Mohammed Tantrey, alias Noor Trali, who is believed to have played a role in the terror group’s revival in Kashmir Valley, had allegedly taken Khan under his wings and groomed him.

The National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is probing the Pulwama attack, carried out searches at Khan’s residence on February 27. “Mudasir had been in constant contact with suicide attacker Adil Ahmed Dar, who rammed his explosive-laden explosives into the CRPF convoy. He, along with Adil and three others, had trained for suicide attacks. He also played a key role in offering logistics for the attack,” said an NIA officer.

The eldest son of a labourer, Khan is also believed to be involved in the terror strike at the army camp in Sunjawan in February 2018, in which six personnel and a civilian were killed. His role had come under lens in the Lethpora attack on a CRPF camp in January 2018 that left five jawans dead.

Police records say that the two slain terrorists were affiliated with proscribed terror outfit JeM and were wanted for their complicity in a series of terror crimes, including attack on security establishments. A stash of arms and ammunition, including assault rifles, were recovered from the encounter spot.

Security forces had launched a cordon and search operation in Pinglish after receiving intelligence about the presence of militants in the area. The operation turned into an encounter after the militants opened fire at the search party who retaliated.

Lt General Dhillon said ever since the February attack, 18 militants have been killed in various actions by security forces.

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