In a major success for the security forces, three terrorists were killed in an encounter at Khulchohar in South Kashmir’s Anantnag district on Monday morning.

The operation was jointly carried out by the Jammu and Kashmir Police, Army and CRPF.

The neutralised terrorists included one Hizbul Mujahideen commander, Masood Ahmed Bhat.

With Masood’s death, J-K police chief Dilbagh Singh said that the entire Doda district in Jammu region has become totally free of militancy once again.

According to the police, Masood, who was the last surviving terrorist of Doda, was involved in a rape case filed by Doda police and was on the run ever since. He later joined Hizbul Mujahideen and shifted his area of operation to Kashmir.

Arms and ammunition including an AK 47 rifle and two pistols were recovered from the slain terrorists.

According to details, Army and police had launched a cordon and search operation (CASO) on the basis of a specific information about the presence of terrorists. As the cordon was tightened, the hiding terrorists fired at the security forces which triggered the encounter.

On Saturday, Jammu and Kashmir police had said that 29 foreign terrorists are active in South Kashmir but assured that the security forces are experienced enough to deal with them and wipe out militancy from whole of South Kashmir.

“There is a presence of foreign terrorists in the upper reaches of Kokernag, Tral and Khrew. There are about 29 foreign terrorists active in South Kashmir and we will neutralise them when they come down and our sources inform us (about them),” Inspector General of Police (IGP), Kashmir, Vijay Kumar said.

Asked whether foreign terrorists are a bigger challenge or the local ones, the IGP said both are a challenge but the forces are experienced enough to deal with them.

“Foreign terrorists or locals both are a challenge even though foreign terrorists are more trained. Our security forces, especially SOG boys, are well trained and have been working for the last 25 years and we have developed an expertise in dealing with them. What matters is the pinpoint information and once we get it, we will neutralise them,” he said.

Kumar said the number of terrorists in South Kashmir was more than the north but security forces have started anti-militancy operations in North Kashmir as well.

“But there are militants remaining in the south and it is our priority (to deal with them),” he said.

Kumar further said the security forces have achieved a huge success by wiping out Hizbul Mujahidden (HM) from Tral area of Pulwama district and the aim is to wipe out militancy from the whole of South Kashmir.

“Tral was known as an epicentre of militants since 1989 along with Sopore and Shopian. Tral is a difficult terrain and militants have always been there. HM is an old outfit which shelters every outfit. It is a huge success for the security forces to have wiped out the HM from Tral area and our endeavour will be to wipe out militancy from the whole of South Kashmir,” he said.

Meanwhile, Pakistan has been continuously violating bilateral ceasefire along the LoC. Senior army officials say it is being done to provide fire cover to terrorists to facilitate their infiltration into India.