2 militants, 5 jawans killed as 60-hour encounter ends

2 militants, 5 jawans killed as 60-hour encounter ends

Troopers take part in the wreath-laying ceremony of two slain paramilitary colleagues at the Central Reserve Police Force headquarters in Srinagar on March 2, 2019, following a gunfight at Babagund village of Handwara in Kashmir's Kupwara district. AFP

The 60-hour fierce gunfight in Handwara area of north Kashmir’s frontier Kupwara district ended on Sunday with the killing of two unidentified militants holed up in a congested area.

After the encounter began on Friday in Babagund area of Handwara, there was a lull in firing several times during the day, but the militants opened fire as soon as the security forces advanced towards a house where they were hiding. Five security personnel died in the incident while 11 forces’ men, including a CRPF officer, were injured. A civilian also died on Friday during clashes between protesters and security forces.
 
A police spokesperson said two militants were killed on Sunday morning. “Their identity and group affiliations are being ascertained,” he said.

The Handwara operation posed considerable difficulties to the forces due to the topography of the area. “The area where the terrorists were hiding was very congested and civilians in the adjoining houses had to be evacuated to safer places away from the site of encounter,” the spokesman said.
 
An army official said a mopping-up operation was on with security personnel clearing and sanitising the area. “This was one of the longest encounters in Kashmir in recent times. We suffered casualties as militants were at an advantageous position,” he said.
 
There has been a huge rise in casualties to security forces in the recent weeks in militant attacks in Kashmir. Last Sunday, deputy superintendent of police (DySP) Aman Thakur and an armyman lost their lives in an encounter with Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorists in Kulgam district.
 
On February 18, four soldiers, including an army Major and three Jaish militants, one of them being suspected of having plotted the February 14 Puwlama suicide bomb attack, and a civilian were killed in an 18-hour long gunfight in Pinglina village of south Kashmir’s volatile Pulwama district.
 
Ten security forces’ personnel, including a brigadier and a lieutenant colonel and a deputy inspector general of the Jammu and Kashmir police were also injured in that gunfight.
 
Earlier, on February 14, Adil Ahmad Dar, a 21-yer-old local militant, had rammed a car packed with explosives into a CRPF convoy, killing 49 paramilitary personnel and injuring dozen others. It was the deadliest single attack on security forces in Kashmir. Jaish, the terror group that operates from Pakistan, had claimed responsibility for the attack.