Indian police said Monday that one of the “key conspirators” behind a suicide attack that killed at least 40 troops in Kashmir had died in a shootout with government forces.
Mudasir Ahmed Khan, who was shot dead Sunday, was described by authorities as a top commander with Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), the militant group behind the deadly February 14 bombing in Indian-administered Kashmir.
That attack on a convoy of Indian paramilitaries in its portion of Kashmir was the deadliest in decades, and provoked a retaliatory airstrike against what New Delhi called a JeM training camp on Pakistani soil.
Pakistan, which denied supporting JeM, responded by shooting down an Indian warplane and capturing the pilot, whose return two days later pulled the nuclear-armed rivals back from the brink.
Police in Kashmir said Monday that an investigation had “revealed that Mudasir was one of the key conspirators” of the deadly attack on Indian forces.
Mudasir was shot in Tral — a town in Pulwama district where the suicide bombers struck — along with another gunman Indian police said was from Pakistan.
K.J.S. Dhillon, the local army commander in Kashmir, said Monday that 14 alleged JeM militants, including six commanders, had been eliminated in a crackdown in the aftermath of the bombing.
Police said the mastermind of the convoy attack was killed on February 18 along with two other JeM associates in a shootout in Kashmir.
The disputed region is claimed in full by both India and Pakistan, and the foes have fought two wars over the Himalayan territory.
Resistance to Indian rule in the Muslim-majority region has spiked in recent years, with public demonstrations turning violent and soldiers pelted with stones in clashes that have seen civilians killed.
Kashmir has been ruled directly by New Delhi since June last year when Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling party pulled out of an alliance governing the restive territory.
Local parties had been advocating for a fresh state ballot, but the election commissioner said at the weekend no such poll was scheduled in the near future.
Rebel groups seeking independence for Kashmir or its merger with Pakistan have been waging an insurgency against half a million Indian troops stationed there for 30 years.
Tens of thousands have died in the fighting, mostly civilians.