Army baffled by militants' hold-up

Army baffled by militants' hold-up

The Army is baffled why 30-odd militants are holding up a ghost village on the Line of Control in north-west Kashmir for ten days and presume they may be trying to take home the bodies of their slain mates to erase evidence of Pakistan Army’s involvement.

“Two unusual elements in the attack in the Keran sector is the presence of a large number of militants and members of Pakistan border action team, besides their persistence in staying back despite losing men and coming under heavy fire. They are not fleeing,” said a senior officer at army headquarters.

A logical reason, said another officer, could be that the militants were following orders not to leave the bodies behind so that Pakistani army could refute Indian claims on the involvement of Pakistani regulars.

The Indian Army is unable to lay its hands on the bodies though it intercepted Pakistani communications in which the militants were heard saying to their handlers that 12 of them  were dead.

Army officers claimed 10-12 new militants might have sneaked into the conflict zone, keeping the total number more or less at the same level. They are carrying light machine guns and automatic rifles.

The militants have been cornered in a 800 mt x 300 mt front area on the LoC, which includes a dilapidated village, abandoned by villagers soon after the 1971 war.
As the border fence is about 2.5 km behind the LoC, the operation is taking place in an area between the LoC and the fence on Indian territory.

Army officials said though the Shala Bhatta village was on the other side of the border, the entire area was known by that name.

Its a thickly wooded area with broken terrain, which advantage the militants tried to exploit. The troops from 3/3 Gorkha Rifles and 20 Kumaon battalion under 268 Brigade had cordoned off the attackers from three sides.

“The operation has entered the terminal stage. But even after cleaning the area, we would take time to sanitise the area,” said an army official.

The officers are not ruling out ex-filtration of some of the militants, who managed to sneak back into Pakistani territory. There is also a supply line from the Pakistani side to provide the militants with rations and ammunition.

While the two directors-general of military operations from India and Pakistan spoke on Tuesday, Indian DGMO did not take up this issue with his Pakistani counterpart.
Earlier this week, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif had agreed to establish a permanent mechanism between the DGMOs for maintaining peace on the LoC.

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