Kashmir, August 13: Indian Army, along with Jammu and Kashmir Police, gunned down the self-styled Hizbul Mujahideen commander Yasin Itoo, alias ‘Ghaznavi’, along with his two accomplices in Shopian on Sunday. The encounter, which broke out since late last night, also led to the martyrdom of two soldiers.

The neutralisation of Itoo, reported as the chief of operations in Hizbul, comes as a major success for the forces. Itoo was held responsible for instigating the violence in the Valley after the killing of militant Burhan Wani last year.

The operation to eliminate the terrorists began on Saturday, after the agencies received information about their hiding in Awnira village. A cordon was laid to ensure Itoo has no escape plan.

Intermittent firing continued the whole night, and the operation began in full swing in the morning. All three terrorists holed up were killed. They were identified as Irfan, a tech-savvy militant involved in online propaganda for the militant outfit, and Umar, who was personal security man of Ghaznavi.

He was identified by his family members who were brought to the scene of the encounter by police from their residence in Budgam.

Itoo, often called a ‘vintage militant’ as he joined Hizbul Mujahideen in 1996, had surrendered in 2007 and later released on parole in 2014. He joined the militant group again and was its self-styled chief operations commander.

Five soldiers were injured in the gunfight on Saturday night and had to be evacuated to 92 Base Hospital of the Army for treatment. Two among them succumbed to injuries last night.

The dead soldiers were identified as Sepoy Ilayaraja P, a resident of Tamil Nadu, and Sepoy Gawai Sumedh Waman from Maharashtra.

(With inputs from PTI)