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J&K: Encounter underway in Pulwama, major among 4 soldiers killed

File photo. Photograph:( Reuters )

WION Web Team Pulwama Feb 18, 2019, 07.39 AM (IST)

An army major was among four soldiers killed Monday in a firefight with terrorists in the Pinglan area of Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir. Two terrorists and a civilian were also killed in the gun battle. 

The civilian was reportedly killed in the crossfire.

The two terrorists killed are thought to be Kamran Hilaal, who authorities say is the mastermind of last Thursday's Pulwama attack in which over 40 CRPF personnel died, and Hilal Ahmad. The authorities said Kamran Hilaal was a Pakistani national. 

The firefight broke out early Monday morning, at about 2 am. 

The encounter began after the security forces received a tip-off about the presence of terrorists in the area. 

Two soldiers were also injured in the encounter.  

The four soldiers killed have been identified as Major VS Dhoundiyal, Havaldar Sheo Ram, Sepoy Ajay Kumar, and Sepoy Hari Singh. All four are from the army's 55 Rashtriya Rifles. 

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Monday's encounter comes only three days after the Pulwama attack.

A local youth, Adil Ahmad Dar, had last Thursday rammed a car laden with explosives into a bus ferrying Central Reserve Police Force personnel. The bus had been part of a convoy of 78 vehicles transporting 2,500 CRPF personnel from Jammu to Srinagar. 

Thursday's attack was claimed by the Jaish-e-Mohammed. 

The Jaish is headed by Masood Azhar, who is based out of Pakistan. Azhar was one of the three terrorists released by India after the hijacking of the Indian Airlines flight IC 814 from Kathmandu. 

Since the attack, India has raised customs duties on Pakistani imports to 200%, thereby making trade with its neighbour virtually impossible. 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also said that he has given Indian security forces a free hand to respond to the perpetrators of the attack at a time and place of their choosing.