Counter-offensive: Police teams fan out in South Kashmir to ‘hunt’ JeM militants

Srinagar: Crack teams of the Jammu and Kashmir Police have fanned out across south Kashmir to trace the contacts of the three Jaish-e-Mohammed militants, who carried out a suicide attack on the Sunjuwan Army camp in Jammu, officials said.

A counter-offensive against the Pakistan-based militant group became imperative after intelligence reports suggested that its cadres entered the Valley last year and were planning more suicide attacks on security forces, the officials said.

The raids at various places in south Kashmir were being carried out as a preemptive measure to track over ground sympathisers, including the local contacts of the three militants — Qari Mushtaq alias Chotu, Mohammed Adil alias Irfan and Mohammed Khalid alias Rashid.

All three were based in Pulwama in south Kashmir for the last year, the officials said, citing intelligence reports and JeM’s claims on various social media platforms, including Facebook and Whatsapp.

The group claims that Mushtaq was stationed in Tral, Pulwama district, for the last one year. Adil was housed in Sopore and later shifted his base to Pulwama in August last year. The third member of the group, Khalid, who infiltrated into the Valley last year, was also based in Pulwama, a JeM message said.

The three are believed to have travelled to Jammu the night before the February 10 attack, in which seven people, including six soldiers, were killed. The three militants were killed in the counter offensive launched by the Army.

A new video of Jaish commander Mufti Vakas has emerged on social media in which he is seen threatening more suicide attacks “very soon”.

Videos of other Jaish militants asking local youths to join militancy have also been doing the rounds of social media, officials said.

“This trend is not encouraging and counter measures had to be taken,” said one official.

Giving details of the Sunjuwan attack and the investigations so far, the officials said the trio travelled to Jammu in a commercial vehicle. It is suspected that they were carrying arms and ammunition with them.

They were not in conversation with handlers either in Pakistan or the Kashmir Valley and sneaked into the army camp from the rear after cutting a fence, the officials said.

The inquiry into the attack has been handed to the National Investigation Agency (NIA).

The sudden spurt in the activities of the JeM, led by Maulana Masood Azhar, is seen as an attempt by Pakistan’s ISI to do more damage to security forces in the state, said an official.

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