Two Hizbul Mujahideen militants were killed on Sunday during an encounter with a joint party of the Jammu and Kashmir Police and security forces, in Doda district, The Indian Express reported. An Indian Army soldier also died, according to ANI.

The police and security forces had launched searches in Gundana area of the district on Saturday, after receiving inputs about the presence of militants. On Sunday morning, the militants attacked the search party.

The Jammu and Kashmir Police identified one of the killed militants as Hizbul Mujahideen Commander Tahir Ahmed Bhat. Jammu Inspector General of Police Vijay Kumar said at a press briefing that the security forces had been on the lookout for Bhat ever since the police killed another Hizbul Mujahideen militant in January.

“Late night a cordon was laid with the help of police, Army, CRPF [Central Reserve Police Force] and SSB [Sashatra Seema Bal],” Kumar said. “During the search early morning at 7 am, we combed in to a particular house from where the terrorists started indiscriminate firing. The encounter continued for five hours, and Tahir Ahmed Bhat of Pulwama...was killed.”

Kumar said one AK-47 rifle and two magazines were recovered from the militant. He added that Bhat had become active early in 2019. His name had figured as one of the fabricators of the Improvised Explosive Device which went off at a CRPF camp in March 2019, the police officer said. The militant’s name also figured in the murder of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh leader Chandrakant Sharma in April last year.

On May 6, Indian security forces killed Hizbul Mujahideen commander Riyaz Naikoo, in the Beighpora area of Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district. The police said that Naikoo was the mastermind behind the revival of the Hizbul Mujahideen outfit in Jammu and Kashmir.

There have been a series of gunfights and encounters in Jammu and Kashmir over the last month. Five security personnel – an Army colonel, a major, two Army officers and a police sub inspector – were killed during an 18-hour anti-militancy operation on May 3.

On April 29, three militants were killed in a gun battle with security forces in Melhora village in Shopian district. On April 22, four militants were killed in a gunfight in the village.

Three militants were killed after an encounter broke out in Lower Munda in Qazigund area of Kulgam district on April 27. The encounter began when militants fired upon a police patrol party in Lower Munda. The previous day, the security forces killed four militants in an encounter in the district.