Lethpora attack: Mastermind killed in Tral gunfight, says Army

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by Tahir Bhat

Srinagar

Jaish-e-Mohammed militant who was the mastermind of the Lethpora attack was killed in an encounter in Pinglish village of south Kashmir’s Tral on Monday, said 15 Corps Commander Lt Gen KJS Dhillon.

Addressing a joint press conference with the IGP Kashmir SP Pani and the Central Reserve Police Force IG Kashmir at the Badamibagh Cantonment Lt Gen KJS Dhillon, General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the Srinagar-based 15 Corps said that the slain Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) militant Mudasir Ahmed Khan who was killed in Pinglish village of Tral was mastermind of the February 14 Lethpora attack in which more than 49 CRPF men were killed and several others injured.

He said after Lethpora attack we have killed 18 militants out of them 14 were affiliated with Jaish-e-Muhammad outfit and two were affiliated with Lashkar and two with Hizbul Mujahideen.

He said that among 18 slain militants eight were residents of Pakistan and ten were locals.

He added that slain militant Mudasir was active from last one year.

When asked why the forces suffered more causalities than the militants, Dhillion said, “we didn’t want any civilian causality on the spot which led us to suffer more causalities.”

He denied the reports of harassing passengers vehicles during convoy movement.

Inspector General of Police, Kashmir Range, Swayam Prakash Pani said the security forces launched a cordon and search operation in the area in Tral after receiving specific intelligence input about the presence of militants in the area. The operation turned into an encounter after the militants opened fire at the search party of the forces who retaliated.

He said the identity of the second militant has not been ascertained yet.

“We know that his code was ‘Khalid’. We are trying to find his actual identity,” he said, adding that he is believed to be a Pakistani.

15 Corps Commander Lt Gen Kanwal Jeet Singh Dhillon along with CRPF Inspector General (Operations) Kashmir, Zulfiqar Hasan and IGP Kashmir SP Pani addressing a joint press conference at army’s 15 corps headquarters Badami Bagh in Srinagar on Monday, March 11, 2019. KL Image Shuaib Wani

On militant recruitment, he said the recruitment of youth into militant ranks has come down during the last few months.

He said there is a significant dip in the recruitment. “We haven’t seen such a thing (recruitment) in last three months”.

CRPF Inspector General (Operations) in Jammu and Kashmir, Zulfiqar Hasan, said,” Mudasir Ahmed Khan alias ‘Mohd Bhai’ was among the two militants killed in the encounter in Pinglish area of Tral in Pulwama district.”

Answering a question, he refused to term this as avenging the Lethpora attack. “We are peacekeepers ensure that no one raises a gun against the country,” he said.

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