The mastermind of the February 14 Pulwama terror attack, in which 40 CRPF personnel had lost their lives, has been killed in an encounter in south Kashmir's Tral area, officials said Monday.
Two militants were killed in the encounter in Tral's Pinglish area and the Pulwama attack's main conspirator, Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorist Mudasir Ahmed Khan, was one of them, they said.
Khan was the main conspirator of the attack on the Central Reserve Police Force convoy in Pulwama, Lt General Kanwal Jeet Singh Dhillon, General Officer Commanding, XV Corps, said.
"Mudasir Ahmed Khan alias 'Mohd Bhai' was among the two militants killed in the encounter in Tral's Pinglish area in Pulwama district," CRPF Inspector General (Operations) in Jammu and Kashmir, Zulfiqar Hasan, said at a hurriedly called joint press conference by the Amry, state police and the paramilitary force.
However, he refused to term this as avenging the death of February 14 terror strike."We are peace keepers and we ensure that no one raises gun against the country," the officer said.
Inspector General of Police, Kashmir Range, Swayam Prakash Pani, said the actual identity of the second militant has not been ascertained as of now. "We know that his code was Khalid. We are trying to find his actual identity," he said.
The killing of Khan is a significant dent to the JeM, he said.
The security forces launched a cordon and search operation in Pinglish after receiving specific intelligence input about the presence of militants in the area.
It is the JeM commander's family which came forward and identified him, the police officer said.
The house in which the militants were hiding was completely destroyed in the operation by the security forces.
The army said three militants were killed. The police has so far, though, recovered only two bodies.
Lesser-known JeM terrorist Khan has been identified as the brains behind the audacious terror strike in Pulwama that left 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel dead on February 14, officials said on Sunday.
Piecing together evidence gathered so far, security officials said that 23-year-old Khan, an electrician with a graduate degree and a resident of Pulwama, arranged the vehicle and explosives used in the terror strike.
A resident of Mir Mohalla of Tral, Khan joined the JeM sometime in 2017 as an overground worker and was later drawn into the terror outfit by Noor Mohammed Tantrey, alias 'Noor Trali', who is believed to have helped the terror group's revival in the Kashmir Valley.
After Tantray was killed in December 2017, Khan disappeared from his home on January 14, 2018 and has been active since then.
After completing his graduation, Khan did a one-year diploma course as electrician from an Industrial Training Institute (ITI). 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 has also come under lens in the Lethpora attack on a CRPF camp in January 2018 that left five CRPF personnel dead.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is probing the February 14 terror attack, had carried out searches at the residence of Khan on February 27.
A Maruti Eeco minivan was used in the Pulwama terror attack and it was bought by another JeM operative just 10 days before the suicide attack.
The JeM operative, identified as Sajjad Bhat, a resident of Bijbehara in south Kashmir, has since been on the run and is believed to have become an active militant now, they said.
(with inputs from agencies)