Three militants were killed in a gunfight in the Nowgam area of Srinagar on Wednesday, the Jammu and Kashmir Police said.

Inspector-General of Police Vijay Kumar said that three of them were associated with militant outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba and were allegedly involved in the recent killing of panchayat head Sameer Bhat, according to ANI.

On March 9, Bhat was shot inside his house in the Khonmoh area near Srinagar. He had succumbed to the gunshot injuries while undergoing treatment at a nearby hospital. Bhat was a member of the Peoples Democratic Party. He was the second of three local body members to be killed in Jammu and Kahmir within 10 days.

Two of the militants have been identified as Adil Teli and Saqib Tantray, residents of Shopian, reported PTI. “The third one most probably is Umer Teli,” Kumar said. “We have called his family for identification.”

Kumar added that an AK-47 rifle and two pistols had been recovered from the militants.

“Their killing is a huge success for the police,” he added. “We have busted all the modules involved in the recent killings of sarpanches [panchayat heads], CRPF [Central Reserve Police Force], etc, including a territorial Army soldier of Budgam.”

The police officer accused Pakistan of targeting the panchayat heads, saying that Islamabad does not want democratic process or development to continue in Jammu and Kashmir.

“But we are giving them a befitting reply,” he added. “We are identifying them [militants], arresting them or neutralising them in encounters.”

Another panchayat head, Shabir Ahmad Mir, was shot dead by suspected militants in Kulgam district’s Adoura area on March 11. On March 2, panchayat member Mohammad Yaqoob Dar was killed in the Kolpora area of Kulgam.

On Monday, the police had arrested three suspected militants for allegedly killing Mir. The police said the militants were associated with Hizbul Mujahideen.