Srinagar: In a major success for the Indian security forces, one of the key conspirators of the February 14 Pulwama terror attack was eliminated in Jammu and Kashmir’s Anantnag district on Tuesday.

Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorist Sajjad Maqbool Bhat alias Afzal Guru alias Hafiz was killed along with another terrorist and his handler, Tauseef, in Bijbehara area of Anantnag district in South Kashmir. A jawan was also killed in the encounter that broke out this morning.

Bhat was behind the IED attack on a mobile vehicle patrol of 44 Rashtriya Rifles in Pulwama district yesterday in which two security personnel were killed. More importantly, Bhat and Tauseef were involved in the Pulwama terror attack of February 14 in which 40 troopers of the Central Reserve Police Force were killed.

It was Bhat’s explosive-laden car that was rammed into the CRPF convoy in the February 14 suicide attack in Lethpora, which led to the unprecedented Indian air strikes in Pakistan’s Balakot.

"Sajad Ahmad Bhat alias Afzal Guru had joined militancy days before the Lethpora terror attack. He belonged to Marhama village," police sources said, as per news agency.

In a statement, the Jammu and Kashmir Police said: "On a credible input, a cordon and search operation was launched jointly by the security forces at Marhama in Bijbehara area of District Anantnag. As search operation was going on, hiding terrorists fired on the search party. The fire was retaliated. One Army Jawan Anil Jaswal sustained gunshot injuries and attained martyrdom at hospital. Two terrorists were killed; their bodies were retrieved. Terrorists have been identified as Sajjad Maqbool Bha and Tasseef of Jaish-e-Mohammed."

"Sajjad was wanted in Lethpora blast in which 40 CRPF personnel were martyred earlier this year. As per the material evidence collected during the course of investigation, it was learnt that vehicle used for carrying out the blast in Lethpora was owned by Sajjad," the police added.

J&K DGP Dilbag Singh said on the Marhama encounter: "We neutralised two militants. They've been identified as Sajjad Bhat and Tauseef Ahmad Bhat. Both are residents of Marhama and have links with Jaish-e-Mohammed. Sajjad was involved in turning his car into an IED in the 14 February blast."

Today’s encounter in Anantnag came a day after an Army Major was martyred in a separate gunfight in the South Kashmir district.

This morning, after receiving inputs about the presence of terrorists in Bijbehara, security forces launched a cordon and search operation. During the operation, terrorists opened fire at the security forces who then retaliated.
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