The Jammu and Kashmir Police Tuesday said that a militant, Usman Haider, allegedly involved in a string of recent sniper attacks on security personnel was killed in a gunfight in south Kashmir’s Tral. According to police, Haider is the nephew of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar.
Officials said that the killing of Haider is a major success for security agencies, particularly after he was identified as the deputy of the Jaish’s sniper squad that has recently entered the Valley.
“So far bodies of two terrorists have been recovered,” J&K Police said on Tuesday night. “They are affiliated with proscribed terror outfit JeM (Jaish-e-Mohammad). The identity of killed terrorists is being ascertained.”
While the police are silent about the identity of the killed militants, Jaish in a statement to a local news agency confirmed that Haider was among the two militants killed in the encounter. Jaish has also released a picture of Haider carrying an American M4 rifle.
Police sources said that Haider was one of the militants involved in recent sniper attacks in south Kashmir and was based in Tral, where Jaish militants carried out at least two sniper attacks in the past 10 days killing an SSB personnel and an Armyman.
“He was the deputy of the Jaish’s sniper squad,” a police officer told The Indian Express. “He had recently entered into Kashmir valley. The two attacks in Tral were most likely carried out by him.”
Police are yet to recover the American M4 rifle that Haider was believed to be carrying but, sources said that they expect to find it in the debris of the house where the two militants were holed-up. The M4 carbine rifle, according to police sources, is used by NATO forces in Afghanistan and also by the Special Forces of Pakistan.
On Tuesday afternoon, police, Army and paramilitary forces cordoned off the Chan Kitar village of Tral after specific information about the presence of militants. As the joint forces were zeroing in on the target house, militants opened fire triggering a gunfight that ended with the death of two militants. The other killed militant, police sources, say is a local Jaish militant from Tral.
Police sources said that while Haider was killed, there could be some more snipers operating in south Kashmir, particularly in Pulwama district.
Haider is the second nephew of Jaish chief Masood Azhar to be killed in a year. In November last year, another nephew of Azhar’s, Talha Rashid was killed in an encounter with forces in Pulwama district. Rashid was Azhar’s sister’s son. The J&K Police had first recovered a US-made M4 carbine rifle from Rashid’s possession.