Security forces in Kashmir claimed to have killed five militants in an operation at Prang, Ganderbal, in central Kashmir, 35 km from Srinagar.
According to a police spokesman, "The Kangan police and army's 24 Rashtriya Rifles killed five militants on the fringes of Najwan forest near Prang, Ganderbal, on the wee hours of Friday."
"All five militants are believed to be of a non-local cell of Hizbul Mujahideen. Among those killed is Hibul Mujahideen's district commander Assaudullah," said an army spokesman.
Hizb is primarily considered to be an indigenous organisation. Army said the group was responsible for threat to Amarnath Yatra.
According to police sources, the operation was launched around midnight after security forces got a tip-off about movement of militants in the area. "An ambush was laid and the militants were challenged while they were trying to cross the Sind river. The militants, however, fired at the security forces and an encounter ensued," said a police official.
"Contact with the terrorists was established at 1.30am on Friday. On being challenged by the troops, terrorists fired back. A heavy firefight ensued, lasting for over two hours. Despite difficult terrain and poor visibility, accurate fire was brought down on the terrorists, which resulted in killing of all five members of the Hizbul Mujahideen group. The operation was surgically conducted without any collateral damage or casualty to own forces," the army spokesman added.
The army also claimed to have recovered five AK-47 rifles.
Maj Gen RR Nimbodh, GOC, 28 Division, who was in-charge of the operation said the group was active in Ganderbal district for the past seven years.
"Called as Assadullah group, led by Qari Assadullah, it had been under surveillance since September last. We had learnt that the group planned to attack Amarnath Yatra, but they couldn't execute it because of heavy domination of security forces," the official said.
"We started around 10pm on Thursday night. First contact with the terrorists was established at 12.30am and two members of the group were killed by 1am. The operation continued till morning and the remaining members of the group were killed," said Maj Gen Nimbodh.
The GOC said the group was most likely planning to change its hideout when they were challenged as they carried rations with them that would have lasted at least three to four days.
He added that the elimination of the group could not be labeled as complete elimination of militancy in the north Kashmir areas. The bodies of the slain guerrillas were handed over to locals for burial.
As per police, the encounter was over but search operation is the area was still on.