Six terrorists were killed in two separate encounters with security forces in Jammu and Kashmir on Friday, officials said.
While five Lashkar-e-Tayiba terrorists were killed following an overnight encounter with the security forces in Kulgam district in the valley, one ultra was neutralised in Rajouri, they added.
"The bodies of the slain terrorists have been retrieved and the area is being sanitised," inspector general of police, Kashmir Zone, VK Birdi told PTI after the 18-hour gunbattle in Kulgam district came to an end.
Birdi said the bodies of the slain terrorists were located with the help of drone footage.
The security forces had launched a cordon-and-search operation in Nehama village of Kulgam following information about the presence of terrorists in the area on Thursday, officials said.
The search operation turned into a gunbattle as the terrorists opened fire on the security personnel, they added.
While the security forces maintained a tight cordon around the area where the ultras were trapped, the operation was suspended at night, the officials said.
Gunshots were exchanged in the early hours of Friday after a night-long lull at Samno in the Nehama area, the officials said.
The house where the terrorists were hiding caught fire in the exchange of fire, forcing the ultras to come out.
The slain terrorists were identified as Sameer Ahmad Sheikh (of the People's Anti-Fascist Front or PAFF), Yasir Bilal Bhat, Danish Ahmad Thokar, Hanzullah Yaqoob Shah and Ubaid Ahmad Padder (all from The Resistance Front or TRF). While Sheikh had joined the terror ranks in 2021, the others had joined last year or this year.
According to the security officials, both the PAFF and TRF are shadow outfits of the LeT.
Briefing the media about the Kulgam operation, deputy inspector general of police, South Kashmir Range, Rayees Bhat said it was based on specific information regarding the presence of terrorists in Samno village.
"On the receipt of specific inputs regarding the movement of terrorists and based on synergised efforts of the Jammu and Kashmir Police and Army, a joint operation was launched at Samno on Thursday by units of police, 34 Rashtriya Rifles, 9 Para and 18th Battalion of the CRPF. Contact was established with the LeT terrorists who were hiding in a house. In the ensuing encounter, five terrorists were neutralised," he said.
The officer said according to police records, the slain ultras were categorised as terrorists and were involved in several terror crimes, including attacks on security forces and atrocities on civilians.
"They were involved in the attack on Kashmiri Pandit Sonu Bhat in Shopian last year, the attack on a minority picket at Heerpora Batgund in Shopian, the attack on a cordon party at Wattu Keegam and the attack on non-local labourers earlier this year at Gagran in Shopian," he added.
Bhat said the operation was a result of synergised efforts among the security forces operating in the area.
"It is a big success because these terrorists were involved in a number of attacks on minorities.... The neutralisation of the terrorists has dealt a serious blow to the outfits operating here and we believe that more successes are on the way," he added.
The DIG said incriminating materials, arms and ammunition, including four AK-series rifles, four grenades and two pistols, were seized from the encounter site.
Meanwhile, another terrorist was killed in an encounter with a joint team of security forces in Rajouri district of the Jammu region, the officials said.
Based on specific information, an operation was launched in the morning by a joint team of police, Army and Central Reserve Police Force in the Behrote area within the Budhal police station limits, a police spokesperson said.
The cordon-and-search operation was launched based on inputs of suspicious movement in the area, the officials added.
The terrorist, who was hiding in a house, opened fire on the security personnel while they were moving towards the target, the police spokesperson said.
"The exchange of fire continued for some time and one terrorist was killed," she added.
One AK-47 rifle, three magazines, three grenades and a pouch were seized from the encounter site, the spokesperson said.
The area has been cordoned off and the search operation is on, she said, adding that the identity of the terrorist is yet to be ascertained.