SRINAGAR: An army man and a Hizbul Mujahideen militant, who had helped Lashkar commander Naveed Jhatt escape from police captivity last year, were killed in an encounter in south Kashmir's Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday.
A police official said acting on specific inputs about the presence of militants, a joint party of police, CRPF and army laid siege around Ratnipora area of Pulwama, some 30 km south of Srinagar, during the preceding night.
He said as troops conducted house to house searches, they came under heavy volume of fire from militants hiding in the area.
The fire was returned by the troops and in the ensuing gunfight, a Hizb militant and a soldier Baljeet Singh were killed. An army man was also injured in the gunfight and he has been hospitalised.
The deceased militant was identified as Hilal Ahmad Rather of Behgambagh, Kakapora area of Pulwama. A house was damaged during the gunfight.
Sources said another militant managed to escape from the area during the gunfight. A police official said Hilal was involved in many militant attacks on security forces.
"He was also main conspirator, who helped Lashkar's Pakistani militant Naveed Jhatt escape from police custody in Srinagar hospital on February 6 last year," he said.
The police official said Hilal had planned Jhatt's escape with other militants and give shape to it when the Pakistani militant was brought for a medical check-up to Srinagar hospital last year. "He fired at the policemen guarding Jhatt in the hospital. Till then he was working as an overground worker of the militants but after the incident, he went into hiding and joined the militancy".
Two policemen were killed in the militant firing during the escape of Jhatt. Jhatt, who later took over as Lashkar chief in Kashmir, was killed in an encounter with security forces in central Kashmir's Budgam district on November 28 last year.