Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) is trying to re-establish its base in north Kashmir, the Army said on Saturday, a day after three militants of the outfit were killed in an encounter with security forces in Baramulla district.
Addressing a joint press conference with Deputy Inspector General of Police (North Kashmir Range) Muhammad Sulaiman Choudhary at Pattan, Commander 10 Sector of the Rashtriya Rifles of the Army Brigadier N K Mishra said it was after a long gap that militants belonging to the HM were killed in north Kashmir where, in the recent years, only the ultras from Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad had been neutralised.
"The activity of the HM outfit was very less here (in north Kashmir). It seems that Hizbul is trying to re-establish its base in north Kashmir," the Army officer said.
However, he said the security forces were alert and ready to foil all the plans of the outfit aimed at its revival in the north Kashmir. "If anyone (among the militants) wishes to join the mainstream, they are always welcome, but if anyone wants to become a terrorist, he will not be given any opportunity," Brigadier Mishra said.
The DIG North Kashmir Range said the three militants killed on Friday in Yeddipora area of Pattan in north Kashmir's Baramulla district were affiliated with the HM outfit.
"Two of the slain militants were locals and were identified as Shafkat Ali Khan of Rawatpora, Delina and Hanan Bilal Sofi of old town Baramulla. The identity of the third one is being ascertained," he said.
Choudhary said two AK-47 riffles, four magazines, one pistol and two pistol magazines. besides incriminating matter, were seized from the site of the encounter. He said the militants were hiding in a house, holding 12 civilians, including children, hostage.
The Army officer said that the operation was a deliberate one as the first priority was to evacuate the civilians. An Army Major and two Special Police Officers (SPOs) of J-K Police were injured in the gunbattle, but their condition is said to be stable.