Five militants - all believed to be Pakistan nationals - were killed in an encounter with police and Army in Kangan area of Ganderbal district in Kashmir valley on Friday.

Superintendent of Police (SP) Ganderbal Shahid Meraj Rather told The Hindu that Hizbul Mujahideen's Assadullah group was wiped out when troops of Rashtriya Rifles 24th battalion and the police engaged the militants in a gunfight at Prang on Najwan ridge of forest, close to Srinagar-Leh highway, at 1.30 a.m. He said that the ambush had been laid after the security forces learned about the militants' possible passage across Sindh river through a source information.

“The encounter took place when the militants were crossing the river. All the five militants were killed. There was no collateral damage,” Mr. Rather said. Five AK rifles were also recovered.

Mr. Rather said that the militants killed in the encounter included a Pashtu speaking commander of Hizbul Mujahideen Assadullah who was believed to be from NWFP area of Pakistan. He was known to be operating in Kangan area for a long time.

Friday's encounter is rated as a major achievement for police and security forces in the valley as it is for the first time this year in the hinterland that five militants have been killed in a single operation.

Significantly, the number of police and armed forces personnel killed in the last eight months of the year is more than that in the corresponding period of any year during Omar Abdullah's rule.

Senior Army officials would be sharing more details in a news briefing later.