Ayodhya attack mastermind gunned down in Kashmir


New Delhi/Jammu : A top militant of the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) who masterminded the terror attack on the Ram temple in Ayodhya in 2005 was Saturday killed in a gun battle in a pre-dawn operation conducted by police forces of Jammu and Kashmir and Delhi.

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Saifullah Qarri alias Asif, a Pakistan national and divisional commander of JeM, was killed, while his associate Rehman, another Pakistan national, was arrested after a fierce gun battle in Ramzan Mohalla of Janipur, a congested locality in Jammu. Two more people were detained.

Officials said in Jammu that a joint team of the state police and Delhi Police zeroed in on the militant leader and engaged him in a gunfight lasting for over two hours.

A sub-inspector of Delhi Police also received bullet injuries during the shootout.

From the militants’ hideout, police recovered one Chinese pistol, two live hand grenades, seven mobile phones, a satellite handset, a fake election identity card of Jammu with the photograph of the slain militant under the name of Abdul Raqeeb and Rs.30,000.

According to Delhi Police, Asif was behind a number of militant attacks in Jammu as well as other parts of the country.

“The slain militant was mastermind of the Ram Janam Bhoomi, Ayodhya attack of July 7, 2005 and other terrorist activities in Delhi and Jammu,” said Delhi Police Joint Commissioner (Special Cell) Karnal Singh.

Singh said Asif’s name surfaced when Delhi Police had arrested two JeM militants two years ago with five kg of RDX, 12 hand grenades, 10 electronic detonators, two pistols, one magazine, 87 live cartridges and Rs.6.3 million after they had come to execute terror plots in the capital.

“During their interrogation, it was revealed that Asif had sent them to carry out blasts in the capital and also to make a base for further terror activities,” Singh said.

“Technical and physical surveillance was mounted by the Special Cell to apprehend the militant and Asif was killed after a tip-off,” he added.

Inspector General of Police (Jammu Zone) S.P. Vaid told IANS that Asif was one of the most active militant leaders in Jammu and Kashmir.

“This is our biggest success against JeM in recent times,” Vaid said.

He added that the police had been looking for Asif ever since he was found to be the main person behind the audacious Ayodhya attack. He had gone to Pakistan for some months before returning to Jammu and Kashmir.

The police were also questioning the couple who own the house where the militants were hiding.

“We hope to get more details as to why the militant leader was in Jammu and that too close to Aug 15,” Vaid said.