Five suspected militants have been killed in two separate gunfights with security forces in Jammu and Kashmir in the last 12 hours, the police said on Sunday morning. Those killed were allegedly members of terrorist outfits Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad, according to the police.

Four suspected militants were killed in a gunfight in Naira area of Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district.

In a statement, the police said that one of the killed militants was Jaish-e-Mohammad commander Zahid Ahmad Wani and another was a Pakistani national identified as Kafeel Bhai. The other two killed were identified as Waheed Ahmad Reshi, a resident of Kakapora in Pulwama, and Inayat Ahmad Mir, who lived in Naira village of the district.

The police claimed that all of them were members of the Jaish-e-Mohammad.

The gunfight in Pulwama broke out on Saturday after the police launched a cordon and search operation with the personnel of Rajputana Rifles and the Central Reserve Police Force in Naira village.

The police said that the militants fired at them but the personnel exercised restraint due to darkness and presence of civilians in the area. After the citizens were evacuated, the police fired on the militants and killed them, the statement said.

“As per police records, the killed terrorists were linked with proscribed terror outfit JeM and were part of group involved in several terror crime cases including attacks on police/SFs [security forces] and civilian atrocities,” it said.

The statement also said that Wani was an active militant since May 2017 and was involved in several crimes, including attacks on security forces and the killing of a civilian named Azad Ahmad Dar.

Wani was also involved in recruiting youths to join the terror outfit and was one of the masterminds behind several improvised explosive device attacks, according to the police.

The statement said that Kafeel Bhai was operating from Pulwama and Shopian regions and was involved in a series of terror crimes. Reshi was active since 2021 and Dar had joined terror folds recently, it said.

In Budgam, the police killed the militant identified as Bilal Ahmad Khan in the Charar-i-Sharief town. In the statement, the police said that Khan was associated with Lashkar-e-Taiba and The Resistance Front. Police say The Resistance Front is an off-shoot of the Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Arms, ammunition and incriminating material were recovered from the militants at both places, the police said.

At a press briefing held later on Sunday, Kashmir Inspector General of Police Vijay Kumar said that 21 militants, including eight linked to other countries, have been killed in 11 anti-militancy operations this year. He added that 13 of them were associated with the Jaish-e-Mohammad.

Meanwhile on Saturday, Ali Mohammad Ganie, a head constable of the Jammu and Kashmir Police, was shot dead by suspected militants in the Anantnag district.

Several political leaders from Jammu and Kashmir had condemned the incident with the National Conference President Farooq Abdullah saying that violence was unacceptable.

“The vicious cycle of death has caused much loss to human lives in J-K while devastating the socio-economic conditions of the people during the last over three decades,” he had said. “It is high time for such incidents to be stopped now.”