NEW DELHI: The mastermind of the suicide bombing that killed at least 40 paramilitary personnel in Pulwama last week was slain in an overnight gunbattle that also claimed the lives of four Army soldiers, including a major, said senior central government officials on condition of anonymity on Monday.
Officials named the mastermind of the Thursday attack as Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) commander Kamran. Besides Kamran, two other Jaish terrorists were also killed in the gunbattle, which began shortly after midnight on Monday.
“They (the terrorists) kept firing intermittently. First they were waiting for first light (day break) and then, when the forces advanced, they opened fire again. They have been changing tact and moved from building to building. It was a very well-trained group," said a senior security force official, requesting anonymity.
An Indian army brigadier, a lieutenant colonel and a captain also sustained injuries, while a Jammu and Kashmir Police constable was killed in the exchange of fire.
“In Pinglana, Pulwama, J&K troops of the of 182 battalion (BN), 183 BN of CRPF, the special operations group (SOG) of the J&K police and the Indian Army started a cordon and search operation (CASO), wherein an encounter started at 12:50 am on Monday," the CRPF said.
The soldiers who were killed belong to the 55 Rashtriya Rifles (RR). Firing was still on till 7pm on Monday with three JeM terrorists believed to be holed up in the vicinity.
The four victims from the army were named as Major V.S. Dhoundiyal, Havaldar Sheo Ram, Sepoy Ajay Kumar and Sepoy Hari Singh.During the day, CRPF director general R.R. Bhatnagar met Union home secretary Rajiv Gauba to brief him about the situation.
“These operations will become more frequent and lethal. The Jaish is a well-trained and well-armed lot. While these operations will continue, we have to be militarily prepared for any other surprise attack and on-ground intelligence is being ramped up suitably," said a senior intelligence officer, also requesting anonymity.
Last Friday, India had turned up the heat on so-called non-state actors in Pakistan, promising to aggressively strike back in response to the Pulwama terror attack.
In an all-party meeting chaired by Union home minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday, all political parties had expressed their support for the central government’s actions against terrorists, and had urged the people of the country to maintain peace.