Four militants were killed in two separate gunfights with security forces in Kashmir on Thursday.

While three militants of a joint group of Hizbul Mujahideen and Lahkar-e-Taiba were killed in south Kashmir’s Shopian; the fourth militant Danish Ahmad Dar was killed in north Kashmir’s Handwara in Kupwara district.

The first gunfight started in Yawran area of Keller in Shopian after police, army and CRPF started a cordon and search operation, following inputs about the presence of militants in the area.

“As the searches were going on, the search party was fired upon by the terrorists. The fire was retaliated leading to a gunfight. In the ensuing encounter, 3 terrorists were killed and the bodies were retrieved from the site of encounter,” read a statement from the police.

The militants have been identified as Sajad Khanday, Aqib Ahmad Dar and Basharat Ahmad Mir, all residents of Pulwama; while the fourth militant Danish Ahmad Dar was a resident of Sopore.

“They were wanted by law for their complicity in a series of terror crimes, including attack on security establishments and for civilian atrocities,” he said.

The police said that Aqib had a “long history of terror crime records” and several cases were registered against him while Sajad and Basharat were also “involved in many terror attacks”.

“Incriminating material, including 3 AK rifles, was recovered from the site of encounter. A mention of the same has been made in the case records for further investigation,” the police said.

People in Shopian took to streets after the gunfight and threw stones on security forces as the news of militant killings spread. The forces responded by lobbing tear gas shells and firing pellets to disperse the protesters.

Another encounter followed in north Kashmir’s Handwara after a cordon and search operation was launched by police and other security forces in Yaroo area of Langate.

“According to police records, the killed terrorist was affiliated with proscribed terror outfit JeM and was wanted by the law for his complicity in a series of terror crimes including attack on security establishments and civilian atrocities,” the police said.

Security forces have been aggressively pursuing militants particularly those from Jaish-e-Mohammad group after the Pulwama attack.

Since February 14 Pulwama attack, 30 militants including, 20 from JeM, have been killed in 14 encounters across the Kashmir valley. So far the year has been a witness to the killing of 59 militants which also led to death of 57 security forces personnel – 43 CRPF personnel including those of Pulwama attack, 8 army men and 6 police personnel. As many as 12 civilians have also lost their lives in various incidents of violence.

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