Three Hizbul Mujahideen militants, including the outfit’s longest-serving commander, were slain in an encounter with armed forces near the route of the annual Amarnath Yatra in Anantnag district of Jammu and Kashmir on Friday, police said.
Based on specific inputs about the presence of militants in the Srichand Top forest area in Pahalgam, Anantnag, forces launched a cordon and search operation there, a police official said.
He said the search operation turned into an encounter after the hiding militants fired at the forces.
In retaliation, three militants were killed, the official said.
The ultras belonged to the Hizbul Mujahideen outfit, he added.
Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Kashmir, Vijay Kumar identified one of the slain ultras as Ashraf Molvi — one of the oldest surviving militants of the outfit.
Kumar said the operation on the Amarnath Yatra route was a major success for the forces.
Ashraf Molvi a resident of Tengpawa Kokernag had joined Hizb in 2013 and soon became the most wanted militant in the valley. He was instrumental in recruiting locals into the outfit, the top cop said.
Pahalgam, the famous tourist resort in south Kashmir, also serves as one of the base camps for the yatra, which is scheduled to start on June 30 after a gap of two years.