SRINAGAR: A top Hizbul Mujahideen commander was killed in an overnight anti-terror operation at Rishipora village in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district early Saturday, said IGP (Kashmir Range) Vijay Kumar. A civilian and three soldiers were also injured in the encounter.

The slain terrorist was identified as Hizbul’s district commander in Anantnag, Nisar Khanday from Bunapura village in the district’s Dudhwagan. Khanday was an ‘A-category’ terrorist who was involved in multiple terror crimes including attacks on security personnel and civilian atrocities since August 2018, IGP Kumar said. In 2000, Khanday was arrested along with arms and ammunition and detained under the PSA. Before joining terror ranks in 2018, he was involved in several killings of civilians and security forces as well as recruiting new terrorists for the organisation.

Around 3.45pm on Friday, a joint team of the Army’s 19RR, CRPF and J&K Police launched a cordon-and-search operation in Rishipora following intelligence inputs about the presence of terrorists in the area. Around 6.45pm, holed-up terrorists fired upon the search party and tried to escape the cordon by targeting civilians to divert the attention of the security forces, said the IGP.

In the crossfire, a civilian identified as Mukhtar Ahmed Malik was grievously injured. Three soldiers — Lance Naik Achal Patwari, Sepoy Amandeep Singh and another unidentified trooper — also sustained bullet wounds in a bid to evacuate the civilian. The four were immediately airlifted to 92 Base Hospital in Srinagar by an Army chopper and were in stable condition, said a defence spokesperson.

Around 1am, the terrorists again opened fire at the security forces and attempted to escape through a canal nearby. In the ensuing gunfight, Khanday was killed. An AK rifle and other war-like stores were recovered from the slain terrorist, police said.