In a major offensive in the recent times, security forces on Sunday gunned down 13 militants, including those responsible for the brutal killing of Lieutenant Umar Fayaz, in three counter-insurgency operations that also claimed the lives of three Army jawans and four civilians in Anantnag and Shopian districts of Jammu and Kashmir.
The operations, which have rendered a severe blow to terror groups in Kashmir Valley, were launched in the two districts on Saturday night and continued till late Sunday afternoon.
One militant was killed and another arrested in Dialgam of South Kashmir's Anantnag district, while seven terrorists were gunned down in Draggad. Five in Kachdooru area of Shopian district. Out of 13 terrorists, 11 have been identified so far and all of them are locals, officials said.
According to the police, locals in Kachdooru had taken away the body of Sameer Ahmed Lone, a recent recruit of the Hizbul Mujahideen terror group. He was also in the house at Kachdooru. The family later informed the police that Lone had been buried.
Three Army personnel and as many civilians lost their lives in Kachdooru area, whereas another civilian, who was the house owner at Draggad where militants were hiding, was killed along with the terrorists.
Keeping in view the law and order and a bandh call given by separatists groups, the police have imposed restrictions in seven police stations area of Srinagar city and parts of South Kashmir, besides putting separatist leaders including Syed Ali Shah Geelani, Mirwaiz Umer Farooq and Yaseen Malik under house arrest.
Internet services were snapped in parts of Kashmir as a precautionary measure, police said.
Inspector General of Police (Kashmir Range) S P Pani said this was an extremely wonderful work done by Jammu and Kashmir Police, along with the Army and CRPF. "We have tried to keep life smooth in other parts of the Valley but if any miscreant attempts to disrupt the peace, they will be dealt sternly," he said.
Among the killed militants were Ishfaq Thokar, Ehtehmad Hussian and Aquib Iqbal who were responsible for many terror related activities in Shopian area.
Earlier, at a hurriedly called joint press conference of Army, police and CRPF, Jammu and Kashmir Police chief S P Vaid said this is one of the biggest counter-offensives in recent times against terror groups operating in the Kashmir Valley.
The operations by security forces rendered a severe dent to militant groups such as the Hizbul Mujahideen and the Lashker-e-Taiba, officials said here.
Three Army jawans have lost their lives in the operations at Kachdooru in Shopian, the officials said. They were killed when they had gone near the encounter site while planting an explosive device to blow the house where the militants had holed up.
At the press conference called at Victor Force headquarters at Awantipura, around 33 kms from here, Corps Commander of XV Corps, Lt Gen A K Bhatt, termed it one of the biggest operations in recent times and said the death of Lt Umar Fayaz, who was brutally killed in Shopian last year, had been avenged.
"Among the militants killed are Ishfaq Malik and Thokar. They were responsible for his death," Bhatt said.
Fayaz, 22, was killed by militants in May last year. His body was found with bullet wounds in the Hermain area of Shopian district in south Kashmir.
"I would like to make a special mention about the Dialgam encounter where our Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) made a special effort, which is unheard of in any part of the world.
"He called the family members of one of the terrorists. They spoke with him for 30 minutes, to convince him to surrender," the officer said.
"Unfortunately, he did not heed the advice of his family. During the talks, the district SSP tried to get him over. Instead he fired on the police leaving the police with no option other than to retaliate. He was killed. The other one was caught alive," he said.
On the ongoing operations at Kachedoora, the DGP said there was information about the presence of four to five militants, but "we will be able to give a clear picture only after the debris is cleared".
Inspector General of CRPF Zulfikar Hassan pointed out that people came in large numbers at the encounter site in Shopian. It was painful to see young boys getting killed in this manner, the DGP said.
"I urge all the parents to appeal to their children to shun the path of violence and join the national mainstream," Vaid said.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, who is in the national capital, has expressed grief over the death of civilians during security operations in Anantnag and Shopian districts today. She has also sympathised with those injured during these operations.
The Chief Minister has also paid tributes to the three Army jawans who were killed during these operations.
National Conference working President Omar Abdullah, while condoling the death of civilians, questioned the Chief Minister's absence from the state. "So while all this was unfolding the Chief Minister didn't see (it) fit to cut short her Delhi trip. What was so important to have kept her there?" Omar tweeted.