Kupwara, Day 5: Troops Still Battling Infiltrators

24 March 2009
The Indian Express

Srinagar: The gunbattle between infiltrating militants and security forces in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kupwara district resumed on Tuesday night after a lull during which troops recovered the bodies of six more militants, taking the toll to 25 - 17 militants and eight Army personnel, including a Major, have died so far in the firefight, now in its fifth day, not far from the Line of Control (LoC). Reports reaching Srinagar on Tuesday night said a gunbattle had begun in Putshahi in the Lolab area and troops of the Rashtriya Rifles were engaging the militants. Earlier, Defence officials said the infiltrators were mostly foreigners. Arms, ammunition and communication equipment have been recovered from the slain militants. “So far, 17 rifles, four under barrel grenade launchers (UBGL),13 AK magazines, 207 AK ammunition, 19 UBGL grenades, two grenades, two global positioning systems, a Thuraya set, a Kenwood radio set, three map sheets, three matrix sheets, two haversacks and Rs 9,200 in Indian currency have been recovered,” said Defence spokesman Lt Col J S Brar. The gunbattle began on March 20 on the higher reaches of the Shamsabari forest after the Army received specific information that militant columns were trying to infiltrate with assistance of militants already in the area. This was the first major infiltration attempt this year from the PoK-end. Sources said the militants had sneaked into the Valley last week from the upper reaches of the Shamsabari range. The group was first spotted by Army patrols near Ragni post in the Tangdhar area. While the Army gunned down a militant near Ragni post, the others fled into the Shamsabari forests and the operation was expanded to different forests in Handwara and Kupwara. “The militants were engaged at three places in the forests and there were fierce gunbattles,” Brar said. Major Mohit Sharma and seven Army personnel were killed in the operation.