In the first major operation against infiltrators near the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir this year, five militants and at least three soldiers were killed in a gunfight in Kupwara district.
Two other soldiers were injured in the operation that was launched after the Army intercepted a group of infiltrators in Keran sector last week. J&K Police claimed that the five militants were from the Lashkar-e-Taiba.
Defence sources told The Indian Express that Army personnel deployed on the LoC intercepted a group of militants in the Jamgund forest on April 1 following which a brief exchange of fire took place. Later, a massive search was launched in the area, with all exit points sealed and additional forces deployed.
“Fresh contact with the militants was established on Saturday and in the ensuing operation, which is still underway, five infiltrators have been killed so far,” said a senior Army officer.
Defence spokesperson Col Rajesh Kalia said: “Alert troops braving inclement weather and hostile terrain have so far eliminated five terrorists attempting to infiltrate across the LoC, taking advantage of bad weather.”
Kalia said two soldiers later succumbed to injuries. “Despite prevailing inclement weather conditions, casualties have been evacuated… Total three soldiers martyred. Operation in progress,” he said.
J-K Police said in a tweet that “5 of Lashkar[Lashkar-e-Taiba] who infiltrated from Keran sector” were killed in the last 24 hours.
Kupwara SP Shriram Ambarker said: “(Area of) 3-4 km was put under cordon since the group was intercepted… forces are presently involved in the ongoing operation.”
An Army officer said: “The area, where the operation is going on, is rough terrain and covered in several feet of snow. This is the reason the operation is taking days.”
This is the second biggest operation in the Valley in the last 24 hours. On Saturday, joint forces killed four militants affiliated to the Hizbul Mujahideen in South Kashmir’s Kulgam district.
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