The Jammu and Kashmir police on Monday said two top commanders of The Resistance Front, an offshoot of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, were killed in an operation in Srinagar’s Aloochi Bagh area, PTI reported.

The suspected militants were identified as The Resistance Front chief Mohammed Abbas Sheikh and his deputy Saqib Manzoor.

“Ten jawans of the police dressed in civvies quickly surrounded the area and challenged the terrorists, who opened firing,” Vijay Kumar, Inspector General of Police, Kashmir Zone, told PTI. “In retaliatory firing, the duo were killed.”

The police are said to have been monitoring the activities of Sheikh and Manzoor for the past few days. They received information that the militants would visit the Khad Factory Ground at Aloochi Bagh to watch local soccer matches, News18 quoted unidentified officials as saying.

Sheikh and Manzoor were reportedly responsible for several attacks on civilians, political leaders and security personnel, according to the Hindustan Times.

In April, Manzoor allegedly carried out an attack on Bharatiya Janata Party leader Mohammad Anwar Khan in Srinagar. While Khan escaped without any injuries, a security official lost his life in the attack.

Manzoor was also reportedly involved in the killing of lawyer Babar Qadri in Srinagar. Qadri had taken up several cases of alleged militants, stone-pelters and victims of conflict. He was killed just three days after he expressed apprehensions about a threat to his life.

Security officials have said that Sheikh was the mastermind behind most killings by The Resistance Front in the past, according to PTI.

Sheikh had terrorism-related cases against him dating back to 2006 and was said to be among the longest surviving militants in the Kashmir Valley. He was earlier allegedly associated with the Hizbul Mujahideen and had defected to The Resistance Front two years ago.

Manzoor had allegedly joined The Resistance Front in 2020, according to the police.

In another incident at Sopore’s Pethseer area, the security forces killed three suspected militants, PTI reported. A search operation was launched in the area late on Monday night. Inspector General Vijay Kumar said that the encounter ensued early on Tuesday morning.

The identities of the deceased are yet to be ascertained. The Kashmir Zone Police recovered arms and ammunition.