SRINAGA: Two top Hizbul Mujahideen militants, including a former policeman, who was in the security detail of a PDP Minister and fled with two AK 47 rifles last year, were today killed in an encounter with security forces in south Kashmir's Shopian district, with the army calling it a "major breakthrough".
Naseer Ahmad Pandit and Inamul Haq alias Waseem Malla were shot dead in an encounter with a joint team of local police, CRPF and Rashtriya rifles at Vehil village near Shopian, about 55 km from here, army said.
"It was a joint operation of police, CRPF and Rashtriya Rifles. We were able to eliminate the two top terrorists of Hizbul Mujahideen. Their killing caused a serious dent in the top leadership of Hizbul Mujahideen," General Officer Commanding of Army's Victor Force Major General Ashok Narola told reporters in Awantipora.
Terming the killing of Pandit and Malla as a "major breakthrough" in the anti-militancy operations, the officer said the top leadership of the terrorist outfit was now "almost finished".
Narola said the operation was "clean" with the security forces suffering no casualties.
"With the killing of Waseem Malla and Naseer Pandit in Shopian district this morning, the top leadership of Hizbul Mujahideen is almost finished.
While Malla was a A++ category militant, Pandit who deserted police to join Hizbul Mujahideen ranks last year was
lso A-Plus category militant," Narola said. He said Malla, a resident of Pehlipora in Shopian, was the mastermind behind the killing of three policemen in cold blood at Amshipora village of Shopian on April 6 last year.
Pandit, a resident of Karimabad village of Pulwama, had decamped with two AK rifles on March 27 last year from the residence of PDP Minister Altaf Bukhari's residence.
"For the last two years, these people had created a lot of problems for the people and were involved in atrocities and we are satisfied on their elimination," the Army officer said.
The two were among a group of 11 young militants whose photographs were widely circulated on the social media last year.
"Of the 11 in the photo, two were eliminated earlier and two today and Insha Allah the rest will also be dealt with,
which is a matter of time," he said.