Srinagar- Four militants who police said were associated with the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) were killed in an encounter with state forces on Monday in Shopian district of south Kashmir.
State forces launched a cordon and search operation in Manihal area of the district around midnight, following information about the presence of militants there, Inspector General of Police (IGP) Vijay Kumar said.
He said the militants refused repeated offers of surrender and opened fire at the forces.
"We appealed to them to surrender and brought their families, including wife and a four-year-old child of a militant, to appeal to them to surrender. But they refused," he said.
Kumar said after the militants opened fire at the state forces, there was a gunbattle in which four militants were killed.
"All the four were categorised militants belonging to LeT outfit. Although, they call themselves as Lashkar-e-Mustafa, they are listed as LeT militants in our records and all these names, including TRF (The Resistance Front) are the offshoots of the LeT or Jaish-e-Mohammad," he said.
The IGP said three pistols and an AK rifle was recovered from the site of the encounter.
The militants were identified as Rayees Ahmad Bhat, who was active since October last year, Amir Shafi Mir, active since last month, Raqib Ahmad Malik, active since December last year and Aftab Ahmad Wani, active since November last year.
An Army man was injured in the encounter and is undergoing treatment at a hospital here, he added.
The IGP said so far this year nine encounters have taken place in the valley with most of them - eight - in south Kashmir, while one in the north.
"In these nine encounters, 19 militants have been killed, out of which nine alone were from Shopian district and two were top commanders," Kumar said.
He said 18 youths have joined the militant ranks this year, out of which five have been killed in various encounters and three have been arrested.
"The rest are still active and we have been appealing to their parents to bring them back to the mainstream. Some may return. Also, seven youth who had joined the militancy have been brought back with the help of their families. The parents have increased their trust in the state forces," he added.
The IGP said the police will render all help to those youth who surrender their arms and leave militancy.
"I appeal to those who have taken up arms to surrender whether before an encounter or even during it. We will provide all possible help, you will be accepted and will not face any problem," he said.
Referring to the security situation in the valley, the IGP said the focus of the security forces was to maintain an atmosphere of peace.
"We would like to maintain two things. The schools and colleges should not be closed which can happen only when there is no incident and the atmosphere is good. Second, we would like to create such an atmosphere that tourists come here in huge numbers so that people here get employment and earn money," he said.
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