Srinagar: Acting on specific information generated by Pulwama Police regarding the presence of terrorists in the Mitrigam area, the Army and CRPF jointly launched a search operation on Thursday.

During the search operation, as the joint search party proceeded towards the suspected spot, the hiding terrorists fired indiscriminately upon the search party which was retaliated leading to an encounter.

In the initial exchange of fire, one security force personnel received gunshot injuries. He was immediately evacuated to the hospital for treatment of his injuries. However, the operation was halted to ensure the safe evacuation of all the civilians trapped around the encounter site. Moreover, all due precautions were also taken to avoid any collateral damage, stated the police release.

After the evacuation of civilians was done, the operation was resumed. In the ensuing operation, two local terrorists identified as Aijaz Hafiz of Dalipora and Shahid Ayub of Dheeri Murran linked with proscribed terror outfit Al-Badr were killed and their bodies were retrieved from the site of the encounter.

As per police records both the killed terrorists were categorised terrorists and part of groups involved in a series of terror crimes including attacks on Police and Security Forces and civilian atrocities. Both the killed terrorists were involved in a series of recent terror attacks on outside labourers in Pulwama, said the police.

Terrorist Aijaz Ahmad Hafiz was involved in firing upon outside labourers namely Sonu Sharma son of Banarasi Dass resident of Pathankote at Yadder Pulwama, Mohammad Akram son of Ab Salam resident of Bijnor UP at Arihal Pulwama and Wishwajeet Kumar son of Parwas Mandal resident of Banka Bihar at Circular Road Gangoo, Pulwama.

He was also involved in firing upon bank guard namely Ab Hamid Wani resident of Tahab Pulwama and Sarpanch Gh Nabi Kumar of Panchayat Halqa Arihal B at Arihal Pulwama. Besides these terror crimes, terrorist Aijaz Hafiz was instrumental in recruiting Shahid Ayoub Sheikh into terrorist ranks, who too was neutralized in the said encounter.

Terrorist Shahid Ayoub was involved in firing upon two outside labourers namely Patlashwar Kumar son of Jako Choudary and Joko Choudary son of Thaugh Choudary, both residents of Bihar at Lajoora Pulwama. Before joining terrorist ranks, he was working as a terrorist associate & was involved in several other terror crimes.

Incriminating materials, arms & ammunition were recovered from the site of the encounter. All the recovered materials have been taken into case records for further investigation.

IGP Kashmir termed this operation as a big success and congratulated the joint forces for neutralizing the terrorists involved in the recent terror attacks on outside labourers.

Pertinent to mention here that during the current year so far 62 terrorists linked with different proscribed terror outfits were neutralized in various encounters across the valley.

IGP Kashmir while sharing with media said that due to enhanced Humint, Techint and focused operations the surviving rate of terrorists is drastically decreasing. During the current year, 62 terrorists linked with different terror outfits have been neutralized in different encounters so far.

Out of these 62 killed terrorists, 32 terrorists got neutralised within just three months of their joining terror rank. Among the 62 killed terrorists, 39 were linked with terror outfit LeT, 15 with JeM, 06 with HM & 02 with Al-Badr. The killed terrorists include 47 local terrorists and 15 foreign terrorists.

IGP Kashmir once again reiterates his appeal to all misguided youth who have joined terror folds to shun the path of terrorism and return to the mainstream. He also appealed to the parents & elders of these terrorists to plead their wards to shun this reckless path of violence.

In this regard, a case under relevant sections of law has been registered and an investigation has been initiated.

People have been requested to cooperate with Police till the area at encounter site is completely sanitized and cleared of all the explosive materials.