A Hizb ul Mujahideen commander from Doda and two Lashkar I Toiba militants were killed in a gunfight with security forces in Shangus belt of southern Kashmir’s Anantnag district on Monday.
A police official said that acting on a tip-off army’s 19 RR, special operation group (SOG) of JK police and CRPF cordoned off Khul-Chuhar, Ranipora village in the wee hours and launched searches.
“As the forces zeroed in towards a suspected spot in the orchards the militants hiding in a tin shed opened fire. The fire was retaliated triggering an encounter,” he said.
The exchange of fire lasted for an hour after which the guns fell silent.
“Bodies of three militants were retrieved,” the police official said.
He said that an AK-47 rifle and 2 pistols were recovered.
The bodies were taken by police to PCR Srinagar and then to Handwara in northern Kashmir for burial. Lately, police have been denying the bodies of militants to their families as their funerals attracted large crowds.
HM district commander of Doda, Masood was among the slain. A police statement said Doda district in Jammu zone has become “militancy free” as the last of the surviving militants in the area has been killed.
It said Masood had joined Hizb and shifted his area of operation to Kashmir.
The other two militants were later identified by their families as Tariq Ahmad Khan from Mehman-Mohala, Lal Chowk locality of Anantnag town, district commander of LeT and his associate Nadeem Ahmad Itoo from Sunigam village of Kulgam.
Khan had gone missing on July 25, 2018, after two LeT militants Adil Bhat of Doda and Bilal Dar of Khudwani Kulgam were gunned down at his house.
After a few days his photo carrying an automatic rifle went viral.
Since then he has been on run with the security forces carrying many operations in the district to trace him.
Nadeem had joined the ranks recently.
Meanwhile, strict restrictions were imposed by security forces on the movement of people in Anantnag town to foil any attempts of protests.
Spools of concertina wires and barricades were put both in the old town and KP Road area and forces were deployed in huge numbers.
2G mobile internet in the entire district was also shut down.
This was the 14th encounter in south Kashmir this month so far in which 40 militants have been killed.