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Three Jaish militants slain in Tral forest gunfight, police say one of them killed BJP leader Rakesh Pandita

Three Jaish-e-Mohammad militants, including one who was allegedly behind the killing of BJP worker Rakesh Pandita in June, were slain in an encounter with armed forces in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Saturday, officials said.

Armed forces personnel had launched a cordon-and-search operation in the upper reaches of the forest area of Nagbaeran Tral in the south Kashmir district following inputs about the presence of ultras there, they said.

The officials said the search operation turned into an encounter when the militants fired upon the forces’ personnel, who retaliated.

“In the ensuing gunfight, three militants affiliated with JeM outfit were killed,” they said.

Inspector General of Police (IGP), Kashmir, Vijay Kumar said one of the slain ultras has been identified as Wakeel Shah.

“Shah is one of the militants included in the recently released list of top 10 militant wanted by the police. He was involved in the killing of BJP leader Rakesh Pandita. It is a huge success,” the IGP told reporters at a press conference at the Army’s Victor Force headquarters at Awantipora.

GoC, Victor Force, Major Gen Rashim Bali also addressed the media.

Kumar said there was no collateral damage in the operation.

“It was a very difficult operation and concluded without any collateral damage. We cordoned off the target area, offered them surrender, but they fired and were killed in retaliation,” he said.

The IGP said they used to exploit the families of the Gujjar community where they were hiding.

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Major Gen Bali said the militants were operating in the area for a long time.

“A solid message from us has gone out through this operation that there is no place for them, not even in the forests. We will get information about them,” he said.

The GoC said two AK 47 rifles, an SLR, a UBGL and a huge amount of ammunition were recovered from the encounter site.

Asked if there were inputs on the presence of more RPGs in the valley after it was recovered from the site of an encounter in Kulgam on August 13 where Pakistani militant Usman was killed, IGP Kumar said the forces have no information about the presence of such a weapon in the hinterland.

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