Top Jaish explosives expert among 3 killed
Abdul Rehman alias Fauji Bhai , a native of Rawalpindi in Pakistan, was an Afghan war veteran who had been active in South Kashmir since 2017, the officials said.Updated: Jun 04, 2020 01:20 IST
Indian security forces killed a top Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) explosives expert in Kashmir, suspected of planning a May 28 car bombing that was foiled by the vehicle’s interception, and two local terrorists in a major counter-insurgency operation on Wednesday, officials said.
Abdul Rehman alias Fauji Bhai , a native of Rawalpindi in Pakistan, was an Afghan war veteran who had been active in South Kashmir since 2017, the officials said.
“This operation was based on human intelligence inputs and all three militants killed in the operation were affiliated with Jaish,” Jammu & Kashmir Police inspector general Vijay Kumar said, adding that the bodies of the three militants would be buried in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district.
Clashes erupted near the encounter site and the police made announcements asking people to stay inside their homes and not venture out.
A joint team of the army’s Rashtriya Rifles, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and Jammu & Kashmir Police killed Rehman, who also went by the name Waleed Ismail and was the JeM’s operational commander in the area, and the two other terrorists in a shoot-out in Pulwama district’s Kangan village where they had been holed up, the officials said .
Vijay Kumar said Rehman planned the May 28 car bombing that failed when security forces intercepted a Santro car in Pulwama packed with explosives the previous night. The two terrorists killed along with him were identified as JeM’s district commander in Pulwama , Manzoor Kaar alias Abu Mansh, a resident of Sirnoo, and Javid Zargar of Rangmullah, another JeM commander.
Inputs available with security forces, however, indicate that Rehman had built two more vehicle improvised explosive devices in Kashmir.
“Our information was that Fauji Bhai... had fabricated three vehicle IEDs. We seized one of the three on May 27 but there are two more out there, possibly somewhere in Budgam and Kulgam areas,” a top counter-terrorism official told Hindustan Times, requesting anonymity.
There have been several intelligence reports over the past two months about plans by Jaish terrorists to carry out major strikes targeting security forces.
The Santro car packed with explosives seized by security forces on May 27 was the vehicle for the first of these planned attacks. It was intercepted when it was being taken to a Jaish terrorist, Sameer Ahmed Dar of Kakpora, Pulwama, by an associate.
Sameer Dar is a relative of Adil Dar, the suicide bomber who drove his Maruti Echo vehicle into a CRPF convoy on February 14, 2019, killing 40 troopers. The attack was followed by India launching air strikes on a terror facility in Pakistan’s Balakot, and a subsequent dogfight between the air forces of the two neighbouring countries.
This time, Sameer Dar offered to drive the vehicle IED into a security camp. Intelligence reports indicate that one of the likely targets of the car bomb was the 44 Rashtriya Rifles camp at Shadimarg, Rajpora, Pulwama.
Initial reports had suggested that JeM’s current chief in the Kashmir valley, Mohammad Alvi alias Lambu, may have been killed in the latest encounter, but officials later said he was still at large. Alvi also goes by the name Ismail.
“Groups like Jaish use many names and aliases while operating in different areas to confuse the security forces,” another counter-terrorism official said, requesting anonymity. “Lambu, who is said to have taken over the reins of Jaish in J&K after the killing of its leader Kari Yari (in January), is still on the run.”
Alvi was also among the key planners of the May 28 failed car bombing and had a role to play in the February 14, 2019, suicide attack as well, as reported by HT on Tuesday.
“The killing of Abdul Rehman alias Fauji Bhai, a Pakistani national, is a big success for security forces as he was a master in assembling improvised explosive devices for JeM,” Vijay Kumar told reporters.
Kumar claimed that Rehman had managed to escape on May 28 when security forces intercepted the explosives- laden car, which was supposed to have been used to attack a security forces convoy or camp.
“We had promised you that day we will get him soon. Today we did. Whether he was involved in 2019 car bombing attack on CRPF convoy, I cannot say for sure, but he was active in Pulwama at that time,” Kumar said.
On Tuesday, two militants were killed in an encounter with security forces in Tral area of Pulwama district.
The militants, who sources said were locals, were killed in a gunfight which erupted after a search operation was launched by a joint team of the state police and the army at Saimoh village. Two AK-47 assault rifles were recovered from the encounter site.
Since the Covid-19 lockdown, 44 militants and two associates have been killed in encounters in Jammu and Kashmir.