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Srinagar, Jun 3 (PTI) Security forces on Wednesday killed terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad's (JeM) top IED expert Abdul Rehman alias 'Fauji Bhai', who was an Afghan war veteran, besides two local militants during an encounter in Pulwama district of South Kashmir, police said.
"The killing of Abdul Rehman alias Fauji Bhai alias Fauji Baba, a Pakistani national, is a big success for security forces as he was a master in assembling improvised explosive devices for JeM," Inspector General of Police Vijay Kumar told reporters here.
Kumar said the slain Jaish terrorist was active in south Kashmir since 2017 and had taken part in armed action against the allied forces in violence-ridden Afghanistan in the past.
The IGP claimed that Fauji Baba had managed to escape when security forces intercepted the IED laden car in Pulwama on May 28.
"We had promised you that day we will get him soon. Today we did. Whether he was involved in 2019 car bombing attack on CRPF convoy, I cannot say for sure but he was active in Pulwama at that time," he said in response to a question.
Asked if Fauji Baba was the nephew of Jaish chief Masood Azhar, Kumar said, "There is no confirmation of that. You are only running it (on TV channels)."
He said there were at least two more IED experts among the Jaish ranks in Kashmir, Walid Bhai and Lambu Bhai, and the security forces were working to get them too.
"We have had major successes this year as we have eliminated top commanders of Hizbul Mujahideen Reyaz Naikoo and poster boy Junaid Sehrai, Lashkar chief Haider in Handwara and now Fauji Baba," he added.
Security officials said that the real name of Fauji Bhai was Ikram and he was a close confidant of top JeM commander Abdul Rouf Asghar, wanted in connection with the IC-814 hijacking case of an Indian Airlines plane in 1999.
Asghar is younger brother of JeM supreme commander Maulana Masood Azhar, who was released in exchange by the then BJP-led government on December 31, 1999.
Fauji Bhai had infiltrated along with specially trained JeM mercenaries to revive the outfit and initiate spectacular attacks on security apparatus.
The group moved to South Kashmir and set up their bases in Tral, Rajpora and Khrew areas of Pulwama and intermingled with local JeM terrorists. The specialized attacks included massive IED attacks and M4 sniper shots.
His movement was often reported from Chewa Kalan and Rajpora areas of Pulwama along Rumshi Naala and Chadoora area of Budgam and his pictures freely circulated. He was known to wield an AK rifle fitted with a UBGL and carried a satellite phone for communication.
Fauji Baba was killed along with two of his associates during the encounter with security forces in Kangan area of Pulwama district on Wednesday morning. Kumar said efforts were on to identify the other two slain ultras. The "potential parents" of these militants have been called in for identification.
"If they are identified, their family will be allowed to participate in the funeral at Baramulla. We are in the process of conducting the autopsy and collecting DNA samples in case they are not identified," he added.
A defence spokesman said security forces launched a cordon and search operation in the area following information about the presence of militants there. After laying the cordon in the area, announcements were made for the militants to surrender, but they fired upon the security forces, he said.
"In the retaliatory action, the three terrorists were eliminated," he added. PTI MIJ SKL AAR