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Four Army men, three militants, cop, civilian killed in Pulwama gunfight

Slain foreign militant's role in recent Lethpora attack being probed: Police  


Srinagar, Feb 18 (KNS): At least nine persons including four Army men, three militants, one Head Constable of JK Police and a civilian were killed in a day-long encounter that raged between forces and militants in Pinglena village of South Kashmir's Pulwama district.  
Police said the slain militants were affiliated with Jaish-e-Muhammad, adding that one among the slain militants was local while two others were foreigners.
Earlier, police had said that a Cordon and Search Operation (CASO) was launched jointly by Police and forces in the intervening night in the area following the credible inputs about the presence of militants in Pinglena area.
A police statement reads that as the searches were going on, militants from inside the target house fired indiscriminately on the search party. “In the initial burst of fire four Army men and one civilian sustained critical gunshot injuries who were evacuated to hospital for medical attention,” police said, adding that they (four Army men and a civilian) however succumbed to their injuries.
The slain Army men were identified as Major Vibhuti Shankar Dhoundiyal, Hawaldar Sheo Ram, Sepoy Hari Singh and Sepoy Ajay Kumar.
Police however said the fire by the militants was retaliated, leading to an encounter in which three militants were killed. Spokesman said that a cop was also killed in the gunfight who he identified as Head Constable Abdul Rashid Kalas.
Police said Kalas sustained gunshot injuries during the encounter following which he was evacuated to hospital for medical attention where he succumbed to his injuries.
Spokesman said the slain militants killed in the gunfight were affiliated with JeM and one among the three has been identified as Hilal resident of Pinglena Pulwama and from the incriminating material recovered from the site of encounter the other two militants have been identified as foreigners from Pakistan.
According to the police records, all the three militants were wanted by the law for their complicity in a series of crimes including attack on security establishments and civilian atrocities.
"One of the foreign militants identified as Kamran had taken over as operational commander of JeM after Mufti Waqas who was killed in an encounter in February last year,' police said, adding that as per police records, Kamran remained active in District Pulwama and Awantipora since 2017 and had a long history of crime records. "He was responsible for the recruitment of people to the militancy and several crime cases were registered against him," police said.
Kamran while operating in the southern belts extensively relied on the old JeM network of Noor Trali and Mufti Waqas. His role in the recent attack on CRPF at Lethpora is being probed as well, police added.
Similarly, Hilal was involved in several crimes and several crime cases were registered against him, police said, adding that arms and ammunition including rifles were recovered from the site of encounter. "All these materials have been taken in the case records for further investigation and to probe their complicity in other cases," police said.
Meanwhile, police appealed locals not to venture inside the encounter zone since such an area can prove dangerous due to stray explosive materials. "People are requested to cooperate with police till the area is completely sanitized and cleared of all the explosives materials if any," police said.(KNS) 

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