Encounters between security forces and terrorists were witnessed in 12 of the 22 districts of Jammu and Kashmir last year with Kupwara accounting for the highest number of terrorists (52) killed in such encounters, police said.
While such encounters were witnessed in 9 out of 10 districts of Kashmir Valley that year, 3 out of 10 districts of Jammu region saw such incidents. There was no encounter reported in Ladakh province during the time period, an officer told PTI.
Out of the total 256 militants killed in 2018, south Kashmir recorded the highest number of killings (127 terrorists) followed by north Kashmir (93 terrorists) and central Kashmir (24 terrorists). Nine terrorists were killed in Jammu region last year.
"As many as 52 militants were killed in Kupwara border district of north Kashmir in 2018. The terrorists were killed in encounters in the hinterland and during foiling of infiltration bids along LoC in this border district," the officer said.
Shopian, considered the hub of terrorists in the Valley, saw the killing of 43 terrorists, he said.
Pulwama district of south Kashmir accounted for the killing of 39 terrorists followed by Anantnag which witnessed the death of 30 terrorists.
According to the police, the south Kashmir region comprising four districts of Shopian, Pulwama, Anantnag and Kulgam, is turning out to be a stronghold of militants.
"Most of the militant attacks and encounters in the Valley have taken place in this region. It has of late emerged as the hub of militants. The militants can roam freely and have connectivity due to the dense forests in this region," the officer said.
South Kashmir was also the epicentre of the over five month-long unrest in the Valley in 2016 following the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani.
The militants belonging to the Burhan Wani group and others and operated in the south Kashmir hills made videos of their activities from this part of the state, officials said.
The militant groups active in South Kahsmir region include Hizbul Mujahideen (HM), Lasker-e-Taiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohmmad (JeM) and Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind.
The top terrorist commanders who emerged from this region are Burhan Wani, Zeenat Ul Islam, Al Badr commander Zeenat-ul Islam, Lateef Tiger and Sabzar Ahmad Bhat, the officials said.
The police officer said more than 26 top militant commanders affiliated to Jaish-e-Mohammad, Lashkar, Hizbul Mujahideen, Harkat-ul- Mujahideen and Ansarul-Gazwat- ul-Hind were killed in different anti-militancy operations by the government forces last year.
In north Kashmir, where 93 terrorists were killed last year, 27 terrorists were killed in Baramulla, 17 in Bandipora and 52 terrorists in Kupwara.
In central Kashmir, Srinagar recorded killing of 16 terrorists followed by eight terrorists in Budgam. No terrorist was killed in Ganderbal district in 2018.
In Jammu region, where nine terrorists were eliminated in the encounters, five were killed in Jammu followed by three in Reasi district and one in Poonch border district, officials added.
"There are still about 300 active militants present in the state. We are trying to further strengthen border security as well as the security in the hinterland while counter-insurgency operation will continue," DGP Dilbagh Sing had said earlier.