Five heavily armed militants and two troopers were killed while two others, including an Army officer, were injured in a fierce encounter in north Kashmir’s district of Kupwara on Saturday.
The deceased securitymen have been identified as Naik Shinde Shankar Chandrabhan of Nashik (Maharashtra) and Gunner Sahadev Maruti of Vijayapura (Karnataka).
Army sources did not spell out the identity or group affiliation of the slain militants.The encounter started in Marsarri Chowkibal, 125 km from Srinagar, on Friday afternoon after the 41 Rashtriya Rifles, 16 Grenadiers and 19 Maratha Regiment launched a cordon and search operation in the area close to the Line of Control (LoC).
Reports said the intermittent gunfire continued through the night and intense firing resumed on Saturday morning.
“Contact with terrorists was established last (Friday) evening and a fierce gun battle ensued which continued intermittently through the night resulting in elimination of five terrorists whose identity is being ascertained,” a defence spokesman said in Srinagar.
“Two soldiers have also been killed in the operation while two troopers, including an Army major, were injured,” he added.
Reports said the two troopers succumbed to their injuries in hospital while the condition of the Army major is said to be stable.
Sources told Deccan Herald that security forces had information about presence of a group of five to six militants in the forest area.
The militant group is believed to have infiltrated recently and they were trying to take refuge in the residential areas due to snowfall in the forests.
The house in which the militants were hiding has been destroyed in the operation.Brigadier S P Singh of 68 Mountain Brigade told reporters at Chowkibal that they had information that a group of militants was moving in the area.
Tip-off“Yesterday we received a specific input that the group is moving between Marsarri and Zonrishi villages and when our search and cordon party reached Marsari, they were fired upon from an abandoned house. The firing was retaliated, triggering an encounter,” he said.
“The militants had taken position in such a house where our intervention was difficult but our soldiers, showing exemplary courage, zeroed in on the militants who were firing indiscriminately. Our two soldiers who laid down their lives in the initial gunfight today morning were instrumental in neutralising two militants in the house, but we lost both the brave soldiers when other hiding militants from the basement of the house opened fire on them,” the Brigadier said
“Despite shivering cold our soldiers tightened their noose around the holed up militants through out the night and didn’t allow them to escape,” he added.
SSP Kupwara Ijaz Ahmad Bhat, who was supervising the encounter from Chowkibal, said five bodies of the militants were recovered from the debris of the house.
“We also recovered five AK 47 rifles, 25 magazines and a large quantity of other ammunition and equipment from the encounter site.” The SSP added that from white snow dresses and snow axes recovered from the possession of the militants it seems that they had recently infiltrated to this side of the LoC.