An Army soldier and a suspected militant were killed in an exchange of gunfire in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Tuesday, PTI reported. One soldier suffered injuries.
Inspector General of Police (Kashmir Range) Swayam Prakash Pani said the gunman was Hizbul Mujahideen member Hilal Ahmed Rather. Rather was the prime accused behind the escape of Lashkar-e-Taiba militant Naveed Jatt, who was gunned down by police in November.
Jatt, accused of assassinating senior journalist Shujaat Bukhari, had escaped from the Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital in Srinagar in February. Active in South Kashmir, he was involved in multiple attacks between 2013 and 2014.
An unidentified police spokesperson said that security forces and the Jammu and Kashmir Police had launched a cordon and search operation on Monday night after receiving information about the presence of militants in Ratnipora area, Greater Kashmir reported.
During the search operations, suspected militants allegedly opened fire at security forces, who retaliated. The spokesperson said this led to an encounter, which resulted in Rather’s killing.
The deceased soldier was identified as Baljeet Singh, who succumbed to injuries in hospital.
The spokesperson said security forces recovered incriminating material, and arms and ammunition from the site of encounter. “The police has registered a case and initiated an investigation in the matter,” he said.
The police also appealed to residents living nearby to not venture near the encounter site as stray explosives might be present.
Five militants affiliated to the Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba were killed in an encounter with security forces in Kulgam on February 10.