Shopian: Two militants including top Lashkar-e-Toiba commander Ishfaq Dar, who was active since October 2017 in the area, were killed in an encounter at Cheki Seediq Khan village of Shopian on the intervening night of Sunday and Monday.
A cordon and search operation in the village was launched by a joint team of government forces including 34 Rashtriya Rifles of army, Jammu and Kashmir Police, and 178th battalion of central reserve police force (CRPF) after they received inputs about the presence of militants in the village, police said.
Locals from the village said that thorough searches were carried out by the forces in the village and even warning shots were fired. They said that around Sunday 9 PM, contact with militants was established and an exchange of fire took place.
A police source said that after the initial exchange of fire, the operation was halted and announcements made on loud speakers for militants to surrender, which they refused. The militants were killed at around 3 AM in the night.
Local sources said that both the militants came out of the house in which they were hiding and were killed outside. They said that the house also sustained minor damage.
Ishfaq Dar (Abu Arkam) according to police sources left a police job in 2017 when he was receiving training at the Kathua police training centre. They said that he was the longest surviving militant in district Shopian at present.
Dar was a resident of Heff village, which is also the native village of slain militant commanders like Sadam Padder, Bilal Mohand and Waseem Lefty.
The second militant who was killed along with Dar was identified by police as Majid Iqbal Bhat, son of Muhammad Iqbal Bhat, resident of Nowpora village in Imamsahib area of Shopian. Bhat has left behind two minor daughters, his wife and parents.
Police said that two AK 47 rifles and eight magazines were recovered from the encounter site. A case has been registered regarding the encounter, police said.
Police in a statement said that Ishfaq Dar was involved in many killings of civilians, policemen and non-local drivers, besides recruiting youth to militancy.