5 Foreign Militants Killed In Handwara Forests

5 Foreign Militants Killed In Handwara Forests

1 August 2013
The Daily Excelsior
Fayaz Bukhari

Srinagar: Five foreign militants were killed in a fierce overnight gun battle that broke out in North Kashmir’s Hafrooda forests last evening during a security force operation that was launched four days ago after a group of militants was spotted in the forests on July 29. In the meantime, security forces have launched a massive operation in Lolab forests of North Kashmir’s Kupwara district against new chief of Jaish-e-Mohammad militant outfit along with a group of around 9 militants. General Officer Commanding (GOC) of Srinagar based 15 Corps of Army, Lt General Gurmeet Singh told reporters here that 5 foreign militants of Lashkar-e-Toiba were killed in the Hafrooda forests of Handwara in North Kashmir’s Kupwara district in 72 hour long encounter. The GOC said that two Army personnel also sustained injuries, and their condition is improving now. He however, said that search operation is still in progress in the dense forest area. “The bodies of all the slain militant have been recovered with huge quantity of war like stores including under barrel grenade launcher”, he added. The Army commander said that with the killing of 5 militants in Hafrooda, the death toll has risen to 10 in overall operations in North Kashmir including Keran sector and Machil sector since last three days. The General said that the operation was launched on July 29 when the security forces received intelligence based information about the presence of a group of militants in the forests. Security sources said that 5 AK rifles and large quantity of ammunition and war like stores were recovered during the search operation. They said that the group had recently infiltration from Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) into Hafrooda forests of Handwara and was spotted after security forces received information about their presence in the forests. “It was a group of around 5 that had infiltrated by the middle of July and one of the militants had received them and he was acting as a guide for the group. Five of them have been killed and search for the sixth one is going on”, the sources said. Sources identified two of the LeT commanders killed in the operation as Abdullah and Wahid. “All of them are foreigners and these two were the commanders as per the documents received from them”, sources added. Three Army personnel were injured, one of them critically, last night when the Army established contact with them first time since July 29 evening. The Army also fired back resulting in the gunbattle. Sources said that the dead bodies of the militants were recovered during the search operation of the forest area. He said that the search operation is going on despite the freak weather. Initially, Handwara police and 6 Rashtriya Rifles of Army launched an operation on July 29 and in the evening they established contact with the militants. Heavy exchange of fire between militants and security forces in the evening of July 29 but in the morning on July 30 no militant was found in the area. The security forces recovered only some pouches and a rucksack. More troops including 32 RR, 6 RR and 9 Para commandos of Army joined the operation on July 30 after the militants escaped from the encounter site of July 29 at Baila. The GOC said that militants are desperately making attempts to infiltrate into Kashmir but army has intensified vigil along the Line of Control (LoC) and due counter infiltration grid the infiltration bids have been foiled. In the meantime Army and Special Operation Group of Police (SOG) launched a massive operation in Lolab forests in North Kashmir’s frontier district of Kupwara after inputs that new Jaish e Muhammad (JeM) Chief was hiding in the forest area. Sources said that 18 Rashtriya Rifles, 28 RR, 47 RR, 9 Para, 4 Para of Army and SOG cordoned off the Saiwan, Malgund and Shahgund forest areas inputs that the new Jaish Mohammad Commander Qari Obama along with his associates are hiding in the forest area. Qari Obama has succeeded Qari Yasir who was killed in an encounter on July 23 last month at Lolab in North Kashmir’s Kupwara district. Meanwhile, sources said that intermittent firing has been reported from Kamalkote sector of Uri in North Kashmir’s Baramulla district for last three days. Army’s 11 Madras has been firing intermittently following reconnaissance conducted by the militants on the LoC for possible infiltration. “One militant was injured in the Army’s firing a day before when he was conducting reconnaissance near the LoC”, sources added.