JAMMU - Three Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) militants on Friday were killed in a pre-dawn gunfight with government forces at a toll plaza along the Srinagar-Jammu highway in Nagrota area here.
A group of three-four militants were intercepted at the Bann toll plaza, about 28 km from Jammu city, when they were trying to enter the Kashmir Valley on a truck, officials said.
Police suspect the militants might have infiltrated through the International Border in Kathua district to carry out an attack.
One of the militants was killed in the ensuing gunfight while the others managed to escape to the nearby forest area, Director General of Police Dilbag Singh said. He said a policeman was injured in the incident.
He said the militants belonged to Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM).
The truck driver and conductor were arrested, the DGP said.
The Jammu-Srinagar highway was closed and the entire forest belt was cordoned off. After a gunbattle, two more militants were killed.
Choppers, drones and sniffer dogs have been inducted into joint operations to track down the fourth militant as a massive search operation rages up, they said.
Six weapons, including a sniper rifle and large quantity of ammunition and explosives have been recovered, the DGP said.
"The truck was stopped by our personnel for checking. As they were about to enter the truck, the militants opened fire and our jawans also retaliated. One of our jawans was injured in his arm due to a bullet, while a militant was killed on the spot," the DGP said.
IGP Jammu Zone, Mukesh Singh told reporters that the truck was intercepted at the toll post at 5 am by a joint team of police and CRPF.
The truck was carrying polyvinyl and a cavity was created inside it to hide the militants, officials said, adding that the militants were armed with bullet-proof jackets.
The officials suspect that the militants might have planned to carry out an attack at vital installations as well as security camps along the nearly 300-km highway.
Bhom Raj, the policeman injured in firing by the militants, has been hospitalised, they said. Raj was unarmed and could not retaliate.
Senior police officials were at the spot to oversee the combing operations. All schools and colleges were closed in Udhampur district as a precautionary measure.
In 2018 and 2019, militants had created similar hideouts in trucks to ferry militants to Kashmir to engineer major attacks.
In September last year, a truck loaded with cardboard material was intercepted during checking on the Jammu-Pathankot highway in Kathua district.
Three militants, who were on the truck, were arrested and arms and ammunition, including four AK-56 rifles, two AK-47 rifles, six magazines and 180 rounds of ammunition, besides Rs 11,000 in cash, was seized.
In September 2018, three militants of JeM were killed and 12 security personnel, including three officers, injured in Reasi district after they fired on a police party at Jajjar Kotli in Jammu.
Truck Driver Cousin Of Pulwama Bomber
The driver of the truck transporting three foreign militants which was intercepted by police at Nagrota on the outskirts of Jammu on Friday morning has been identified as Sameer Dar, a cousin of Pulwama attack suicide bomber Adil Dar.
Three Jaish-e-Mohammed militants were killed and a policeman sustained injuries in the encounter after the truck they were travelling in was intercepted by the police at a toll plaza on Jammu-Srinagar national highway.
Three alleged over ground workers of militants including the driver and conductor were also arrested.
The driver was identified as Sameer Ahmed Dar, a resident of Pulwama district of south Kashmir. He is the cousin of Adil Dar, ADG Dilbagh Singh said.
"The militants were headed to Kashmir, probably as a replacement for top leadership of Jaish including its chief Qari Yasir killed by security forces last month," he said. "It was a group of militants that had recently infiltrated from the international border in Jammu."
Sameer has reportedly done a Masters in Geology from Kashmir University.
All the three arrested men are currently being interrogated.
After the encounter was over a large quantity of arms and ammunition including wireless sets and US-made M4 carbines were recovered from the slain militants.
Encounter Disrupts Traffic On Banihal Highway
Traffic on the Srinagar-Jammu highway was disrupted for several hours on Friday morning after an encounter ensued between militants, who were travelling in a truck, and security forces at Nagrota.
“As per traffic police, only one-way traffic was allowed on the highway today and vehicles are to ply from Jammu to Srinagar. No vehicle was allowed from opposite direction,” police said.
Traffic on the highway was stopped after encounter ensued at Nagrota when a group of militants, travelling in a truck, fired upon a police party at 0500 hrs this morning. A police constable was injured in the initial firing. The driver of the truck was arrested and a massive search operation was launched against the militants.
“We stopped traffic on the highway as a precautionary measure in view of the counter,” official sources said.
However, they said a large number of Kashmir bound vehicles were allowed through alternative route to Udhampur.
Light Motor Vehicles (LMVs) were allowed this morning upto 1100 hrs to cross the Nagrota and Heavy Motor Vehicles (HMVs) in the afternoon. HMVs are carrying essentials, including vegetables besides oil and LPG tankers for Kashmir valley.
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