Srinagar: In an indication of further shrinkage of the terrorists’ support base in the valley, more and more cases of outlaws using cave-like hideouts away from the human habitations are surfacing, say security personnel.

A police official made this remark Wednesday after security forces busted an underground hideout of terrorists in Awantipora area of Pulwama district where some of the top Hizb ul-Mujahideen commanders were believed to be hiding.

The official said a search operation was launched in the area on early Wednesday on a tip off about the presence of terrorists in the hideout — a cave-like structure made in a hillock.

Though nothing incriminating could be found by the security forces, there were tell-tale signs of the hideout having been used recently by terrorists, the official said.

The ultras appeared to have deserted it hours before the security forces launched the search operation. This cave-like hideout, away from the human habitations, was detected Wednesday, barely days after discovery of another similar hideout in Arampora area of Awantipora.

The busting of the second cave-like hideout came four days after six terrorists of Ansar Ghazwat ul Hind, an offshoot of ISIS, were killed in an encounter in Arampora area of Awantipora on Saturday.

“The terrorists killed in the operation on Saturday were also avoiding residential areas for quite some time and hiding in a cave-like hideout,” the official said.

He said six terrorists including some wanted Hizb ul-Mujahideen terrorists were killed in Saktipora operation in Anantnag district on 23 November while three others were gunned down in Pulwama district this month.

“In both the cases, the terrorists had built underground hideouts near orchards,” he added.

The security officials said the terrorists have been left looking for alternative hideouts due to the fact that atrocities committed by them against civilians have led to disaffection among the masses and shrinkage of their support base.

“More than 50 civilians were killed by terrorists this year while some of the brutal executions were captured on camera and later circulated on social media. This has further reduced their already shrinking support base,” the official said. He said the other factor for this new trend was the continuous flow of human intelligence to the security forces, which has helped them neutralise a large number of ultras during the year.

“More than 250 terrorists have been killed this year and it has been possible due to the stream of human intelligence that we have been getting from general public.

This has probably forced the terrorists to avoid human habitations and take refuge in these structures. However, we have been getting inputs about these places as well and we are working on it,” the police official said.