A top Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) commander and IED expert, who had participated in the Afghan war, was among three militants killed in a gunfight with security forces in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Wednesday, police said.
Abdul Rehman alias “Fouji Bhai” was behind the car bombing that was foiled in Pulwama last week, the police said.
“Today’s operation is the second biggest success after the killing of Riyaz Naikoo in May. Fouji Bhai was an IED expert and his killing is a huge setback to JeM. This year we have targeted commanders of terror outfits. We will continue the operations in the same manner,” Vijay Kumar, IGP Kashmir, told The Indian Express.
Police sources said that after receiving inputs about the presence of militants in Kangan area of Pulwama, security forces planned the operation and a cordon and search operation was launched in the area. The encounter began around 9.30 am.
Addressing a press conference in Srinagar later, Kumar confirmed that three militants were killed. “One of them is an active terrorist from Pakistan whose name is Abdul Rehman alias Fouji Baba or Bhai, who is a resident of Multan Pakistan and had participated in the Afghanistan war… he is an IED expert,” said Kumar, who was joined by senior CRPF and Army officers.
The two other militants have not been identified and the process is on, Kumar said. “They all will be buried in Baramulla district.”
According to police, Fouji became active in 2017 in Pulwama and South Kashmir. “In 2019, there was an encounter in which Kamran was killed and he (Fouji) managed to escape. On May 28, the IED that we recovered and neutralised had been made by Fouji, and he had plans for a big incident,” said Kumar.
Asked how many IED experts there are at present, Kumar said, “Waleed Bhai from JEM is an IED expert, another is Lambu Bhai, who is 6 feet plus. Today the joint forces recovered 35 kg of explosives in Anantnag and a man has been arrested there. There are possibilities of such incidents happening. But we are on it, information is being generated and we will continue to neutralise.” He added that police are also after JeM chief Abdullah Rashid Ghazi, who is probably hiding in the upper reaches of Khrew area.
Asked if Fouji Bhai was behind the 2019 Lethpora suicide bombing case, in which 40 CRPF men were killed, Kumar said, “I cannot say if he participated in that attack. But he was in JeM and active in Pulwama at that time.”
After security forces received the input on Wednesday, mobile internet was snapped before the encounter started. Clashes later broke out in the area, with local residents trying to march towards the encounter site.
Wednesday’s operation is the second encounter in South Kashmir in 24 hours. On Tuesday, two JeM militants were killed in Tral of Pulwama district. In May, other than Riyaz Naikoo, who was Hizb’s operational chief, Junaid Sehrai, another top Hizbul Mujahideen commander and son of a senior separatist leader, was killed in an encounter.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines