The Jammu and Kashmir Police on Monday said the security forces had killed three militants affiliated to the Jaish-e-Mohammed extremist group in a gunfight in the state’s Pulwama district. The Pakistan-based terror outfit claimed responsibility for the attack on a Central Reserve Police Force convoy on February 14, which killed 40 jawans.

Four soldiers were killed in the gun battle, including a major. Four others were injured, including a brigadier and Deputy Inspector General of Police (South Kashmir) Amit Kumar. The police added that Head Constable Abdul Rashid Kalas was also shot during the encounter and succumbed to his injuries at a hospital. A civilian was also killed, according to reports.

The Army identified the deceased soldiers as Major Vibhuti Shankar Dhoundiyal, Havildar Sheo Ram, Sepoy Hari Singh and Sepoy Ajay Kumar. The force said the jawans were quickly moved to 92 Base Hospital after suffering injuries, but could not survive them. “The mortal remains of the martyrs were flown for the last rites to their native places, where they would be laid to rest with full military honours,” it added.

The police identified two of the three deceased militants as Kamran and Hilal. They said Kamran became the operational commander of the Jaish-e-Mohammed after Mufti Waqas was killed in an encounter in February 2018. They asserted that Kamran and an unidentified militant were “foreign terrorists”.

“He [Kamran] was responsible for the recruitment of people to the terror fold and several terror crime cases were registered against him,” the police said. “Kamran while operating in the southern belts extensively relied on the old JeM network of terrorists Noor Trali and Mufti Waqas. His role in the recent terror attack on CRPF at Lethpora is being probed as well.” The police said Hilal was also charged in many terrorism cases.

The police added that arms and ammunition were recovered from the encounter spot. “All these materials have been taken in the case records for further investigation and to probe their complicity in other terror cases,” they added. The police also appealed to citizens not to enter the encounter zone until the area is fully sanitised.

Meanwhile, former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti offered condolences to the families of the deceased soldiers, but added that the Centre has to change its approach to Kashmir for the violence to end. “Lets drop the obsession with Pakistan and get our own house in order,” she tweeted. “The current attitude will only worsen the situation & polarise the nation.”