DRASS, India- The Indian army on Thursday was preparing for an assault on a key peak in northern Kashmir from where guerrillas have been threatening a vital highway, a defence offical said.
Troops had encircled the snowcapped mountain known as Tiger Hills from three sides and would attack the guerrillas entrenched on its steep slopes, he said.
Army officials said there was no timeframe for the operation to recapture Tiger Hills, about four km (2.5 miles) from the 740-km (463-mile) Line of Control with Pakistan.
"It will be a very tough task, there is no ridgeline there," said Colonel S.V.E. David, deputy commandant of the Drass garrison, pointing to the almost vertical mountain.
"Once Tiger Hills is captured, there will be no domination of the national highway," David said.
Tiger Hills towers over the highway connecting the Kashmir valley with the remote Ladakh region over which India moves the bulk of its military supplies for troops on the Siachen glacier, the world's highest battlefield.
Hundreds of armed guerrillas have breached the control line dividing Kashmir and occupied mountain peaks and ridges in the Mushkoh-Drass and Kargil sectors on India's side of the disputed Himalayan region.
India says the infiltrators are a mix of Pakistani soldiers and foreign mercenaries. Islamabad says they are freedom fighters against Indian rule in Kashmir.
Earlier this week, Indian troops pushed out the infiltrators from two peaks near Tiger Hills. Colonel David said 20 soldiers were killed and 30 wounded in the operation.
He said about 40 people had been killed and 17 wounded on the other side.
He said the enemy dead were regular Pakistani army soldiers. He showed Pakistani army caps, identity cards and paybooks captured from bunkers as evidence.
The guerrillas are also entrenched in the state's Mushkoh and Batalik sectors where the army is seeking to cut off guerrilla supply lines before launching a direct assault.
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This Archives is Maintained by Md. Sadiq, 1998