Two unidentified militants were also killed during the 18-hour anti-militancy operation in north Kashmir’s Handwara area
Five security personnel, including a Colonel, a Major and a sub-inspector, and two unidentified militants were killed during an 18-hour anti-militancy operation in north Kashmir’s Handwara area.
“In a firefight in Changimul, Handwara of Kupwara district, two terrorists were eliminated and the team of five security forces personnel, comprising two Army officers, two soldiers and one police sub-inspector, also died,” a Srinagar-based Army spokesman said,
The spokesman said the operation was launched after the intelligence inputs were received that terrorists were taking civilian inmates of a house in Changimul village hostage.
“A joint operation was launched by the Army and the police on Saturday. A team comprising five Army and police personnel entered the target area occupied by the terrorists to evacuate the civilians. They successfully extricated the civilians. However, during the process, the team was subjected to heavy volume of fire by the terrorists,” said the Army.
Police officials said the operation was called off on Sunday morning after the bodies of the security personnel and the militants were spotted inside the house at the encounter site in Changimul area, nestled in a forest zone.
The deceased senior Army officers were identified as Colonel Ashutosh Sharma, Major Anup Sood and Naik Rajesh and Dinesh, besides sub-Inspector Mohammad Sagier Qazi of J&K Police’s Special Operation Group (SOG). One soldier was also injured in the operation, officials said.
Army sources said the militants, who were inside a cowshed, were presumed dead on Saturday evening after the exchange of fire stopped for over one hour.
The operation against the militants, who escaped from the Rajwara forests on Friday afternoon, was launched around 3.30 p.m. on Saturday and the security personnel had set up heavy lights in the area to ensure the militants did not escape from the spot, taking advantage of the darkness.
Rain slows down operation
The Army officers and their team went inside the house near the cowshed to “rescue the civilians” but their communication got disconnected with the search-and-operation personnel outside, forcing them to hold fire for the whole night. The operation was also “slowed down” due to heavy rain and thunder in the area, police sources said.
Sources said the officers found themselves in front of the militants, who had sneaked in from the rear side of the house, resulting in a fresh bout of firing at the encounter site.
Sources said the identities and affiliation of the slain militants were being ascertained. “Two weapons and a warlike store was also found at the encounter site,” officials said.