Srinagar/New Delhi: The nephew of Jaish-e-Muhammad chief Masood Azhar was among three militants killed in an overnight gunfight with security forces in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama district. A US-made M4 carbine used by NATO forces was recovered from the slain militants, pointing to complicity between militants and the Pakistan army, police said. Talha Rasheed, nephew of Azhar, was among the three militants killed in the gunfight with security forces in Aglar village of Pulwama district, according to a JeM statement given to local news agency GNS.

IGP Kashmir zone, Muneer Khan said: "We will ask Pakistan to collect the body of Masood Azhar's nephew as JeM has owned it. The matter will be taken up through proper channels." Besides the three militants, soldier Sham Sunder of 44 Rashtriya Rifles (RR) was killed in the gun battle. Two other soldiers and a civilian were also injured in the operation. Addressing a media conference in Srinagar with senior officers of the army and paramilitary forces, Muneer Khan said: "A US-made M4 carbine rifle was recovered from the Jaish-e-Muhammad militants killed in a gunfight with the security forces in Pulwama district.

"The recovery of the US made carbine shows the complicity between JeM and Pakistan." Maj. Gen. B.S. Raju, commander of the Rashtriya Rifles' Victor Force, told the media conference, "This US made M4 carbine is presently with a lot of armies with the NATO. "This is used by the special forces of Pakistan Army, so we have a reason to believe that this weapon was given by Pakistan Army to JeM cadres." The Jaish militants had attacked a police check post in Rajpora on Saturday. Following intelligence inputs about the presence of militants, personnel of the 44 RR, Special Operations Group of the state police and the Central Reserve Police Force had surrounded the village on Monday evening.

As the cordon was being tightened, the hiding militants fired at the joint team of security forces. The gunfight started late on Monday evening. The civilian injured is Showkat Ahmad, who along with other protesters had clashed with security forces to disrupt the operation against the hiding militants. In New Delhi, Army Chief General Bipin Rawat said the recovery of an assault rifle used by NATO forces in Afghanistan with the killed Jaish terrorists showed that they were getting support from across the border, in a reference to Pakistan. "Operations are going on. As I said, the operations will continue. If any terrorists carry out activities that put the life and property of our citizens at risk, if they target any building, police station or army, they are troubling the citizens. Our attempt would be to neutralise whoever is involved in terror activities," General Rawat said on the sidelines of an event.

"Whether it is the nephew of Maulana Masood or anyone else, we are concerned only with finishing terror. We are not concerned what is their religion or other things," he said. Along with Rasheed, two more terrorists - Mehmood Bhai, a foreign terrorist, and Wasim Ahmed Ganai, a local terrorist were killed. Among the items recovered from the terrorists, were M4 carbines, a shorter and lighter variant of the American origin M-16 A2 assault rifle. The seizure comes days after a picture of a Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist was circulated on social media holding another variant of the M-16 rifle.

The American origin gun is used by NATO forces in Afghanistan, and questions have been raised how it reached the terrorists. Asked about the presence of the weapon with the terrorists, Rawat said: "You can see sometime back this weapon was shown in media that they (terrorists) have this weapon. It shows they are getting support across the border." The forces also recovered AK-74 rifles, pistols, and matrix sheets from the terrorists. Meanwhile, internet services have been suspended in Pulwama district to check the spread of rumours. (IANS)