A jailed Pakistan-based militant was killed and two police officers and an Indian Army soldier were injured in a gunfight in Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch district on Sunday, PTI reported.
A counter-terrorism operation has been underway in Poonch district for the last two weeks. So far, nine soldiers have died.
On Sunday, a joint search party comprising the police and the Army were taking the jailed militant, Zia Mustafa, to Bhata Durian forest to identify a terrorist hideout, according to the news agency.
“When the team approached the hideout, terrorists again opened fire on the joint team of police and Army personnel in which two policemen and an Army jawan sustained injuries,” a police spokesperson said, according to PTI.
Mustafa too sustained injuries during the gunfight.
Mustafa had been lodged in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kot Bhalwal prison for the last 14 years, according to PTI. He was first arrested in 2003 on allegations of being the mastermind of killing of Kashmiri Pandits in Nadimarg village of Pulwama district in March that year, according to The Indian Express.
On Saturday, Mustafa was taken on a 10-day remand by the police to Mendhar in Poonch district from Kot Balwal jail from where he is alleged to have been in touch with Lashkar-e-Taiba leaders in Pakistan.
The Army and the police could not take Mustafa out of the forest because of heavy firing, unidentified officials told The Indian Express. The injured police officers and the Army soldier were taken to a medical facility.
The security forces conducted another operation with reinforcements later in the day. The spokesperson said Mustafa’s body was retrieved from the encounter during this operation.
Meanwhile, the traffic between Mendhar and Thanamandi along the Jammu-Rajouri highway remained suspended as a precautionary measure for the ninth day on Sunday due to the operation.
The Army had been pursuing the militants since October 11 after five soldiers were killed by suspected militants in the Dehra ki Galli forest area.
On October 14, after the gunfight between the armed forces and the militants, the Army had lost communication with Subedar Ajay Singh and Naik Harendra Singh. Their bodies were recovered on October 16. Two other soldiers had earlier been killed in the gunfight.