With the killing of the group's district commander and three other militants in south Kashmir's Kulgam district on Wednesday, the Kashmir police claim to have eliminated an entire group of the Hizbul Muzahideen operating in the district.
Police and security forces had early on Wednesday cordoned off the Watipora village, 80 kms from Srinagar, following a tip off about the presence of a group of heavily armed militants of the Hizbul Muzahideen.
"As the troops of 1 Rashtriya Rifles and the police started zeroing on the militants this morning, they came under heavy fire, triggering an encounter that ended late this afternoon," a senior police officer said on Wednesday.
"We have killed the Hizbul Muzahideen district commander Sajad Ahmed Bhat alias Tahir Maqsood and three other militants. With their elimination, we have almost wiped out the entire group of Hizbul militants operating in Kulgam," S M Sahai, Kashmir inspector general of police said.
He said that the local police had been in, "hot pursuit of the militants and the continuation of operations against them would result in their complete elimination".
The police said arms and ammunition were recovered even as a search of the encounter site continued.
Sahai said the slain Hizbul district commander had been involved in the June 2006 massacre of labourers in south Kashmir's Anantnag district.