Feb. 18 (UPI) -- Security forces killed three terrorists including the alleged mastermind behind last week's suicide bomb attack in Kashmir, police said Monday.
Pakistani national Abdul Rashid Gazi, who is suspected of having planned the Feb. 14 attack, was killed along with two other Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists following a 20-hour-long firefight with Indian security forces in Pulwama district Monday, the Times of India Reported.
The deaths of the Jaish commander Kamran whose alias was Farahd, Rashid Gazi and a local Indian terrorist were confirmed by Jammu and Kashmir police.
Five Indian military and police personnel, including a 34-year-old army major, were killed in the battle and 11 others were injured.
Police said the terrorists were part of the suicide squad that drove a vehicle loaded with explosives into a convoy transporting Indian Central Reserve Police Force soldiers, killing at least 40 of them.
The terrorists were killed during a joint police and Indian army cordon and search operation of the Pulwama district that was conducted following the military having received information that militants were holed up in the area, India Today reported.
The fighting broke out after the suspected terrorists opened fire on the search party, the Hindustan Times reported.
At least two civilians were also killed during the firefight.
The two civilians were living in the house the terrorists were holed up in, the Times of India reported.
"We condole the death of the four soldiers who lost their lives earlier today in a terrorist encounter," the Indian National Congress said in a tweet about the attack.
We condole the death of the four soldiers who lost their lives earlier today in a terrorist encounter and Major Chitresh Singh Bisht who lost his life yesterday while defusing an IED. We pray for the strength of their families & stand with them in this difficult time.— Congress (@INCIndia) February 18, 2019
Since the terrorist group is based in Pakistan and the explosives used in the Feb. 14 attack appear to be military grade, India has turned its ire to its neighboring country.
"Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India. Neither Pakistan nor any terrorist force by any name can ever undo this reality," MP Abhishek Singhvi said in a media conference Monday.
Jammu and Kashmir is an integral part of India. Neither Pakistan nor any terrorist force can undo this reality. The unprovoked attacks on the students of J&K in different parts of the country is also reprehensible: @DrAMSinghvi— Congress (@INCIndia) February 18, 2019
Watch the highlights of the press conference: pic.twitter.com/Zj3FGj4crE
India has said it will take diplomatic steps to isolate Pakistan from the international community and it's planning to urge the Financial Action Task Force, an international terror financing watchdog, to label the country as non-cooperative in the fight against terrorist financing, meaning that Pakistan would be downgraded in the eyes of lenders, the Economic Times reported.
However, Pakistan has rejected these accusations.
Mohammad Faisal, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, tweeted Sunday that "These knee-jerk and pre-conceived accusation were rejected also because they were within a short time after the attack and without any investigations."
These knee-jerk and pre-conceived accusations were rejected also b/c they were made within a short time after the attack & without any investigations (2/2)— Dr Mohammad Faisal (@ForeignOfficePk) February 17, 2019