On a day when three militants were killed in an encounter with security forces in Shopian, the Jammu and Kashmir Police said Kupwara accounted for the highest numbers of militants’ killings in 2018. Kupwara tops the list among 12 of 22 districts in the state that witnessed militant killings.
“As many as 52 militants were killed in Kupwara border district of north Kashmir in 2018. The militants were killed in encounters in the hinterland and during foiling of infiltration bids along LoC in this border district,” the J&K Police officer was quoted as saying by PTI. Out of the total 256 militants killed in 2018, south Kashmir recorded the highest number of killings (127 militants) followed by north Kashmir (93 militants) and central Kashmir (24 militants). Nine militants were killed in Jammu region last year.
Shopian, which is considered a hotbed of engagements between militants and security forces, saw the killings of 43 militants over the 12 months of 2018.
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 has seen a rise in cases of encounters and stone pelting since the killing of militant commander Burhan Wani in 2016. Apart from Wani’s Hizbul Mujahideen, other groups that are operational in the Valley include Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind. The police officer said more than 26 top militant commanders affiliated to Jaish-e-Mohammad, Lashkar, Hizbul Mujahideen, Harkat-ul- Mujahideen and Ansar–ul-Gazwat- ul-Hind were killed in different anti-militancy operations by the government forces last year.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, security forces launched a cordon and search operation in Heff area of Shopian district following information about the presence of militants in the area, an Army official said. He said the search operation turned into a gunbattle after militants opened fire on the security forces. This is the second encounter is the last 24 hours in the Valley. Earlier in the morning, the Jammu & Kashmir Police had said that there was an exchange of fire between security forces and militants at Heff Shirmal area in Shopian and the area is cordoned off.