1Two Lashkar-e-Toiba militants were killed in an encounter in Ganderbal district of central Kashmir on Tuesday.

The gun battle started in Khimber Hadoora area of Ganderbal, around 18 kms from Srinagar, on Tuesday morning, when police and Army in a joint operation cordoned the area and conducted a search operation.

In wake of the preparations for the January 26 Republic Day parade, security is beefed up across Valley, to avoid any attack especially in main Srinagar city. The biggest function is organized in Srinagar at Bakhshi stadium.

The bodies of the two militants have been recovered and the initial reports suggest that the duo were from Lashkar-e-Toiba, however the search operation was going on till the last reports came in. Unconfirmed reports named the two militants as Abu Anas and Abu Ali and stated that two AK47s were recovered from the spot.

The killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander with his two colleagues on July 8, last year, triggered massive protests across the Valley, which police officials claims created another situation for youth to join militant ranks. Many youngsters started to snatch weapons from the police officials to manage a quick entry.

Since July 2016, 59 locals have joined militant ranks and more than 60 weapons have been snatched. The counter militancy operations had stopped during the five months of street protests, but resumed and are continuing at a fast pace, once the protests subsided since November last year.

The official figures from police and different agencies put the number of active militants in the state around 275 to 300 including foreigners.

J&K chief minister Mehbooba Mufti has urged the J&K police to persuade local militants to surrender and manage their re-entry into the mainstream of development. At least two militants have surrendered since. Police has also contacted families of many militants. Local Hizb-ul-Mujahideen militant, Zakir, in a video message, warned police against harassment of their families.

Earlier, speaking to news agency Director General J&K Police Dr S P Vaid said, “The biggest challenge for police was militancy.”