The militants appeared to have sneaked into the Union Territory from across the international border in the Hiranagar sector of Kathua district. (Express photo by Shuaib Masoodi/File)
Three Jaish-e-Mohammad militants were killed and a cousin of the Pulwama attack bomber was among three held by J&K Police Friday following a gunbattle near Ban toll plaza on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway. A policeman was injured in the firefight and police said they had foiled a major terror plot. IGP (Jammu zone) Mukesh Singh said four AK rifles of the 47 and 56 series, an M4 rifle, five pistols, hand grenades, two wireless sets and a satellite phone were recovered.
He said the militants appeared to have sneaked into the Union Territory from across the international border in the Hiranagar sector of Kathua district.
The militants, police said, owed allegiance to Jaish-e-Mohammad and were being transported to the Valley in a truck by driver Sameer Dar, a cousin of Jaish-e-Mohammad bomber Adil Ahmad Dar of Kakapora who had rammed his explosives-laden car into a bus, killing 40 CRPF personnel at Lethpora in Pulwama district on February 14, 2019.
Sameer Dar, truck cleaner Asif and a third person were arrested. DGP Dilbag Singh said Asif was the brother of Lashkar-e-Toiba militant Manzoor who was killed in a 2016 encounter. He said the questioning of the third person was on.
The militants, police sources said, were hiding behind putty bags which Sameer had loaded onto the truck at Gangyal on the outskirts of Jammu city. Before driving the truck in the direction of the Valley, Sameer appeared to have first driven towards Hiranagar to pick up the infiltrating militants, the sources said.
DGP Singh said there were three militants and the recovery of additional weapons suggested these were meant for other militants in the Valley. Complimenting the police personnel for their alertness and swift action, he said an investigation was underway.
The national highway was closed and a combing operation was launched in the forests. Educational institutions in Udhampur were also closed for the day. The operation lasted for nearly four hours. Two militants were killed initially and a third later.
This was the second time in the last 16 months that police intercepted a truck carrying militants to the Valley. In September 2018, three militants were killed at Jhajjar Kotli along the highway. Nearly a dozen security personnel, including a Dy SP, were injured in that firefight.