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In a double breakthrough, security forces killed three top Hizbul Mujahideen militants, including its chief recruiter Zahid, in an encounter in Shopian and a top Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) commander in the Baramulla district of Jammu and Kashmir today, police said. An Army jawan also died in a brief encounter with militants in the Budgam district of the state. Security forces launched a cordon and search operation in the Ladoora area of Baramulla district following information about the presence of militants, an official said. The operation turned into a gunbattle when a search party was fired upon, he added. In the retaliatory action, one militant - identified as Khalid alias Shahid Showkat of the JeM - was killed, he said. The slain militant was the mastermind of 'fidayeen' (suicide) attacks on the BSF camp near the Srinagar Airport earlier this month and on the district police lines in Pulwama last month, a police spokesman said. "He was also involved in a fidayeen attack on 46 RR Army Camp at Khajabagh, Baramulla in 2016," he said. Khalid was constantly exploring the opportunities to attack security forces and establishments, the spokesman said adding that the slain militant would incite young boys to join his outfit to carry out grenade attacks on behalf of Pakistan-based commanders for monetary benefits. "He was involved in the recent attack on an SPO named Altaf Ahmad Khan at Hajin Handwara in which the SPO along with his son were seriously injured. He was also involved in the killing of tower guard Eidul Amin Mir at Behrampora, Sopore," the spokesman said. The JeM militant was involved in three other killings as well, he added. Meanwhile, three Hizbul Mujahideen militants were killed in a separate gunbattle with the security forces in the Keller area of Shopian district in south Kashmir, police said. Those killed included Zahid, the chief recruiter of the Hizbul Mujahideen in the Kashmir Valley, an official said.
The other two have been identified as Irfan and Ashif, he said. In another encounter in the Budgam district, a soldier was killed. A JCO was killed in a brief encounter with terrorists in the Khag area of Budgam today, an Army official said. The slain soldier was identified as Subedar Raj Kumar.
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