One of the two foreign terrorists killed in the Pulwama encounter on Monday night was the nephew of Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Maulana Masood Azhar.
For the first time ever, the security forces recovered a United States-made M4 rifle from the scene of gunbattle, officials said in Srinagar on Tuesday.
'Three militants killed during an encounter at Kandi Aglar village of Pulwama district includes nephew of Jaish-e-Muhammad (sic) chief Maulana Masood Azhar and (the) outfit's divisional commander,' a JeM spokesman told in a statement.
The JeM spokesman identified Masood Azhar's nephew as commander Talha Rasheed.
He said two other terrorists who were killed in the encounter include Divisional Commander Muhammad Bhai, a non-local Waseem, a resident of Drubgam, Pulwama.
‘It is learnt that Talha Rasheed, nephew of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Maulana Masood Azhar, was among the three terrorists (including two foreigners) killed in the encounter at Aglar in Pulwama yesterday (Monday),’ a police hand out said.
General officer Commanding Victor Force Major General B S Raju said while there were reports that Azhar’s nephew was among the gunned down terrorists, it was for the police to investigate it.
Three terrorists and an army soldier were killed in a fierce gunbattle in Aglar area on Monday night.
Troops of 182 battalion and 183 battalion of the Central Reserve Police Force, along with 44 Rashtriya Rifles and the Jammu and Kashmir Police, were carrying out a cordon and search operation in the region, when the encounter broke out.
Lance Naik Vrahma Pal Singh, who was a resident of Bulandshahar's Syana in Uttar Pradesh, lost his life in the encounter, while a civilian sustained injuries.
Besides two AK-47 rifles, the security forces also recovered an M4 rifle, a weapon mostly used by the US army in its wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Inspector General of Police (Kashmir) Muneer Khan said besides investigating the claim of JeM nephew’s killing, police will also probe as to how the US-made rifle made its way to Kashmir.
He said that they will ask Pakistan to collect Rasheed's body.
"I am thankful that they (JeM) have for the first time owned the (killed) Pakistani terrorist. Now I request them to now claim the body as well,” Khan told reporters.
Maulana Masood Azhar, the founder of Jaish, was one of the three terrorists released by the Centre in exchange of passengers of hijacked Indian Airlines plane from Kathmandu in 1999.
Speaking about the encounter, Chief of Army Staff General Bipin Rawat on Tuesday asserted that aim of the Indian Army is to eradicate terrorism from the Valley and they will continue with such operations to attain it.
"Such operations will continue. We will try to neutralise people involved in spreading terrorism. Our focus is to eradicate terrorism; it doesn't matter if he (the killed terrorist) is Masood Azhar's nephew or anyone else," he told the reporters.
On the recovery of M4 Carbine rifle, the Army chief said, such recoveries make it clear that terrorists are getting support from across the border.
With inputs from Umar Ganie in Srinagar and ANI.