Security forces achieved a major success as a Pakistani terrorist of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) planning an attack along the national highway in Jammu and Kashmir ahead of Independence Day was killed in an encounter in Kulgam district, officials said Friday.
They said the overnight encounter began after two terrorists, who had positioned themselves in a building, started firing "indiscriminately" on a BSF convoy on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway.
The security forces pressed drones into service to monitor the movement of the terrorists.
Kashmir Inspector General of Police Vijay Kumar said the slain ultra, identified as Usman from Pakistan, was a "dreaded terrorist" active for the past six months.
A police spokesperson said a BSF convoy moving on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway was attacked by the terrorists near the Malpora crossing in south Kashmir's Kulgam.
"However, swift, effective and immediate retaliatory actions by the CRPF and the police deployed on the national highway not only thwarted the attack but also saved the precious lives of security personnel and civilians, besides trapping the terrorist in a building," he said.
He said a "strong team" of the Army and senior officers of the police and the CRPF immediately reached the encounter site.
IGP, Kashmir, Kumar and the GoC of the Army's south Kashmir-based Victor Force also reached the site, assessed the situation on the ground and supervised the operation till late night, the spokesman said.
Keeping in view the huge and concrete structure of the building and to minimise collateral damage, drones were pressed in to monitor the movement of the terrorists hiding inside, the official said.
"During this exercise, two drones were destroyed," he added.
The security forces also safely evacuated 22 civilians, the spokesman said.
In the ensuing encounter, the forces successfully neutralised a foreign terrorist identified as Usman of Pakistan, affiliated with proscribed terror outfit LeT", he said.
The spokesperson said a CRPF jawan, an Army trooper and two civilians were injured in the "indiscriminate" firing by the terrorists.
All the injured have been taken to a hospital for treatment, he said.
The spokesman said preliminary investigations, recoveries and the manner of engagement by the terrorists suggested the attack was pre-planned and intended to inflict considerable damage to the security forces to disrupt scheduled functions ahead of August 15 and spread fear among the general public.
"However, the joint teams of the police and the security forces were successful in defeating the evil plans of the terrorists and averted a major tragedy before Independence Day," he said.
IGP Kashmir said there was a general input since the last week that "terrorists were planning an attack on the national highway on the Baramulla-Srinagar road or the Qazigund-Pantha Chowk".
"So, police and security forces were ready. This shows how good the response of the security forces has been that there was retaliation and the militant was not allowed to flee," Kumar told reporters here.
He said when the BSF convoy was coming, "two terrorists fired indiscriminately from a huge building, but there was no injury to us".
"Security forces cordoned off the area and the encounter ensued. GoC (general officer commanding of the Army's south Kashmir-based) Victor Force and I monitored the operation during the night. We used rocket launcher and a militant was neutralised during the night.
"Since it is difficult to search in the dark, in the morning, the dead body of a Pakistani terrorist identified as Usman, who had been active for the last six months, was recovered," he said.
A huge cache of arms and ammunition, which includes an AK-47 rifle, magazines, grenades, RPG-7 rocket launcher, was recovered from the encounter site, he said.
Kumar said it shows the "terrorists were planning something big".
"It is after a long time that RPG-7 has been recovered (in Kashmir) and the police and security forces have averted a major incident. I am proud of the police and security forces," he said, adding, "We achieved a major success by killing Usman the dreaded Pakistani terrorist."