Army eliminates 7 top terrorists
12 July 2002
The Daily Excelsior
POONCH: In a major success, army today eliminated seven hardcore terrorists in Bafliaz area of Surankote tehsil but lost two soldiers including a Major while another jawan was injured seriously. All slain terrorists were believed to be the foreign mercenaries. Unconfirmed reports said that three civilians were also killed in exchange of firing but there was no official confirmation of the report. Official sources said army and police personnel launched a joint search operation in Ranjiti Dhok and Hill Kaka in upper reaches of Bafliaz area of Surankote in early hours of this morning. Operation was based on a tip off that a big group of foreign mercenaries was hiding in the two villages for last about one week and were reportedly planning to strike in a big way in next couple of days. Sources said the first contact with the terrorists was established by a team of army and police personnel at Ranjiti dhok, about 18 kms from Bafliaz at 0800 hours today. The terrorists having observed movement of the security personnel were trying to flee towards a forest area when they were challenged and asked to surrender by the troops. However, the terrorists fanned inside the abandoned dhoks and started heavy firing on army soldiers, who retaliated. A fierce exchange of firing continued between the two sides for more than three hours, the sources said. Simultaneously, they said, another team of security forces intercepted another group of terrorists in adjoining Hill Kaka in Bafliaz area and engaged them in an encounter. By about 12 noon, the security forces succeeded in eliminating seven dreaded terrorists. While five terrorists were gunned down in Ranjiti Dhok, two others were shot dead in Hill Kaka. Sources didnít rule out the presence of some more terrorists in the two villages and said the areas had been combed by security forces and a massive search operation was still on to kill the terrorists. Army Major Yogesh Gupta of 25 Rashtriya Rifles, who bravely led his troops in the operation and was instrumental in killing of the terrorists, sacrificed his life. One more army jawan, whose identity couldnít be gathered immediately, laid down his life while fighting bravely with the terrorists. Another army soldier was injured in the operation. Injured was evacuated from the scene of encounter and airlifted to a Military Hospital in serious condition. Unconfirmed reports said that three civilians were also killed in exchange of firing between security forces and the terrorists. However, official sources didnít confirm the report. Recoveries made so far from the scene of encounter included four AK rifles, one Pika gun, one sniper rifle, one pistol, two wireless sets, five hand grenades, an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) weighing 2.5 kg, 200 AK rounds and 10 magazines. Sources said some more recoveries were expected to be made from the encounter sites as the searches were still going on. Bodies of all seven terrorists, killed in the twin encounters, have been recovered by army but their identity hadnít been established so far. Sources said all slain terrorists were believed to be the foreign mercenaries, affiliated with international terrorist outfit of Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT). Efforts were on to establish identity of the terrorists, whose killing was a big blow for the LeT outfit in Poonch district. This was for the first time in last more than a month that security forces have eliminated seven terrorists in a single operation across Poonch. Meanwhile, bodies of two army soldiers killed in the operation including a Major have been shifted to a hospital and would be sent to their native towns after completion of the legal formalities, the sources said.