4 more infiltrators shot dead in Poonch, toll 6
29 June 2002
The Daily Excelsior
POONCH: Security forces today gunned down four more infiltrators—a total of six during last two days—on the Line of Control (LoC) in Balakote and Mandi sectors of this district belying Pakistan claims that infiltration (of the terrorists) has stopped. Defence sources here said the security personnel observed a group of six to seven terrorists trying to infiltrate into Indian territory through the LoC in Pakhwari Gali in Balakote sector in wee hours of this morning. Security personnel, who were maintaining a high alert on the LoC following last evening’s infiltration attempt in Angan Pathri area of Mandi sector, spotted the intrusion bid well in time and challenged the terrorists as soon as they came within their firing range. A heavy exchange of firing started between the two sides. Encounter lasted for more than one and a half hour in which three terrorists were killed. Sources said three other terrorists reportedly managed to escape back to Pakistan taking cover of darkness. Army didn’t suffer any casualties in the operation, they said. Bodies of three terrorists were recovered from the forward village this morning. All three were believed to be the foreign mercenaries but their identity hasn’t been established so far. They were affiliated with Lashkar-e- Toiba (LeT) outfit. Recoveries made from the scene of encounter included three AK-47 rifles, three magazines, 2580 rounds of AK, one pistol with two magazines and 11 rounds, one revolver, 54 RDX sticks weighing 14 kg, 670 rounds of sniper rifle, 840 Pika ammunition and 840 Pika tracer rounds. In addition, security forces also recovered tooth paste, bubble gums and glucose packets from possession of the terrorists. The packets had markings of Lahore and Islamabad. This was the second infiltration attempt noticed by army in Poonch district during last two days and belied the claims of Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf that infiltration of the terrorists has stopped. Incidentally, these were the first infiltration attempts noticed in Poonch sector after Musharraf’s statement, which had also been endorsed by United States Deputy Foreign Secretary Rochar Armitage and Defence Minister George Fernandes. Meanwhile, the security personnel after killing two infiltrators in Angan Pathri area of Mandi sector yesterday, continued a hunt for the other terrorists, who had initially managed to escape. The terrorists had reportedly managed to fan out in Angan Pathri forests. In the morning, security forces gunned down another terrorist in the forests taking the encounter toll to three. Sources said two to three more terrorists were still hiding in the forests and added that an operation was going on to eliminate them. From Angan Pathri encounter, security forces have so far recovered three assault rifles and ammunition. Meanwhile, a helicopter carrying the media persons back from Mendhar, where the terrorists had been killed, to Jammu was fired upon by the terrorists when it was flying over Arnas at 1510 hours today. Atleast eight shells were fired aiming the helicopter, the media persons travelling in it, said. However, the helicopter was not hit and landed safely at Jammu. The media persons and the helicopter crew had a narrow escape.