The Jammu and Kashmir Police on Friday claimed to have killed three militants, including former Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani’s associate Lateef Dar alias Lateef Tiger, in poll-bound Shopian district. The others were identified as Hizbul militants Tariq Sheikh and Shariq Nengroo.

The gunfight between the security forces and the suspected militants took place during a cordon-and-search operation in the Imam Sahib area of Shopian, which will vote in the Lok Sabha elections on May 6, Greater Kashmir reported.

Before joining the militancy in 2014, Dar was arrested and was out on bail, PTI reported. However, he failed to appear before a district judge after the completion of his bail, and in October 2014 he was seen with Hizbul Mujahideen militants. He was allegedly responsible for a number of murders, including that of sarpanchs in South Kashmir.

He was a close aide of Burhan Wani, who had joined Hizbul Mujahideen in 2010. Wani was Hizbul’s divisional commander, and was killed at the age of 21 in 2016 by security forces.

“He [Dar] was one of the last surviving vintage model of terrorists,” an unidentified security official told PTI. “After his elimination, the old guard of militants only include Riyaz Naikoo and Zakir Moosa.”

Clashes between protestors and security personnel broke out near the encounter site after a few people hurled stone at the forces, unidentified officials said.

Earlier in the day, Congress’ Anantnagar candidate Ghulam Ahmad Mir had asked authorities to exercise “maximum restraint” while dealing with protestors. “We express anguish over the prevailing situation in Shopian district of south Kashmir in the backdrop of the gunfight at Adkhara village in the district,” PTI quoted Mir as saying. “Security forces should exercise maximum restraint while dealing with protestors.”

Meanwhile, the local administration suspended mobile internet services in South Kashmir soon after the encounter.