The Kashmir Valley's most wanted militant commander, Zakir Musa, who headed the Al Qaeda affiliate Ansar Gazwatul Hind, was killed on Thursday by security forces in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama district.
Informed sources said the security forces started a cordon and search operation in Dadsara village of Tral area following information about the presence of two militants there.
"The trapped militants were persuaded to surrender. Instead they hurled grenades and started a gunfight, triggering an encounter," a source said.
One of the dead was identified as Zakir Musa.
Zakir Musa, a close associate of Burhan Wani who was killed in 2017, was a militant of Hizbul Mujahideen who succeeded Burhan and later headed the Al Qaeda affiliate. He had taken to militancy in 2013.
Zakir Rashid Bhat, his real name, was an engineering student in Chandigarh who abandoned education and joined militancy.
He was born in Noorpora village of Tral area. His father, Abdul Rashid Bhat, is a senior engineer working for the Jammu and Kashmir government.
The killing of Zakir Musa is seen as a big success for the security forces in their anti-militancy operations in Kashmir.
After Burhan Wani's death, Zakir Musa threatened to behead Kashmiri separatist leaders of the Hurriyat Conference for calling Kashmir a political dispute instead of a religious struggle to establish an Islamic state.
Authorities have suspended mobile Internet services in Awantipora area of Pulwama as a precaution.
Authorities have ordered closure of all schools and colleges in the Kashmir Valley on Friday.