Munna Lahori, the topmost commander of the Jaish-e-Mohammad extremist group in South Kashmir, was killed in an overnight gunfight with security forces in Shopian, the Jammu and Kashmir Police said on Saturday. The encounter lasted the whole night, and an associate of the commander was also killed in the operation.

The associate was identified as Mir Zeenat-Ul-Islam of Turkawanghom in Shopian. He was a member of the Hizbul Mujahideen, PTI reported quoting a police officer. The officer said Zeenat-Ul-Islam was part of groups involved in terror-related crimes in the Valley. Several cases were registered against him, including a case pertaining to abduction and killing of Irfan Hameed, a civilian living in Zainapora.

Lahori, who was from Pakistan, was known for making improvised explosive devices and was responsible for a series of civilian killings in the local area, the police claimed. The Jaish-e-Mohammad had allegedly used him for recruitment in the area.

The police said Lahori was responsible for a car blast near a vehicle of security forces in Banihal on March 30, and an attack on an Army vehicle in Pulwama on June 17. The attack in Pulwama had killed two Army jawans.

Police said that arms and ammunition were recovered from the two militants. The police asked the public not to visit the encounter site till it is sanitised by the bomb disposal squad.

A police officer told PTI that security forces had launched a cordon and search operation in Banday Mohalla in Bonbazar area of Shopian last night after receiving a tip-off about the presence of militants there. The search operation turned into an encounter after the militants opened fire and the security forces retaliated killing two of them, the officer said.

On April 30, the Jammu and Kashmir Police had arrested six militants, including a PhD scholar, for their alleged role in the Banihal car blast.