SRINAGAR: Top Hizbul Mujahideen commander Masood Ahmad Bhat of J&K’s Doda district was killed along with two other Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district on Monday. With the killing of Masood, who was the “last-surviving terrorist” in Doda, the district is now terrorist-free, J&K DGP Dilbagh Singh said.
Early on Monday, a joint team of Army’s 19
, CRPF and J&K Police launched a cordon-and-search operation in Anantnag’s
Runipora Khull Khulchohar area
based on intelligence inputs about the presence of terrorists there, IGP (Kashmir Range) Vijay Kumar said.
As the forces neared the spot where the terrorists were cooped-up, the latter opened fire at the search party, triggering a gunfight in which Masood and Lashkar duo — Tariq Khan of Anantnag and Nadeem of Kulgam — were killed, IGP Kumar said, adding that arms and ammunition were also recovered from the encounter site.
DGP Dilbagh Singh said Masood had shifted his area of operation from Doda in Jammu region to Kashmir. With his killing, “Doda has once again become totally militancy-free as Masood was the last surviving terrorist there,” Singh added.
The bodies were sent to Handwara for last rites after the completion of medico-legal formalities, including DNA collection. In case the family of the slain want to claim their bodies, they can come forward for identification and participation in the last rites at Handwara, IGP Kumar said.
Monday’s anti-terror operation took the number of terrorists — including eight operational commanders — of various proscribed outfits killed this year across J&K to 116, of which 46 were slain this month alone, the IGP said.
Till August 4 last year, 133 terrorists had been eliminated in the Valley.