Army uses drones; Police says deceased militants were foreigners and part of freshly infiltrated group
Three army men and two policemen were killed in the ongoing gunfight with militants at Halmatpora area of north Kashmir’s Kupwara district on Wednesday while the death toll of militants killed in the firefight has risen to five.
A police official said the encounter between the militants and security personnel continued for second day at Halmatpora area of Kupwara today.
He said two policemen identified as SPO Mohammad Yousuf Cheche son of Shah Mohammad of Kachama, Kupwara and selection grade constable Deepak Thesoo son of Darki Nath of Nagrota, Jammu were killed in the gunfight today.
The official said an SPO Javaid Ahmad was also injured in the gunfight and evacuated to hospital, where his condition is stated to be stable.
Defence spokesman, Colonel Rajesh Kalia said three army men were also killed in the ongoing gunfight.
Two of the slain army men were identified as Sepoy Ashraf Rather of 160 Territorial Army and Naik Ranjeet Kholka of 5 Bihar.
A police official said five militants have been killed in the gunfight, which began yesterday afternoon.
He said three militants were killed yesterday and two today.
A joint team of Army’s 41 RR and SOG Kupwara had launched a cordon and search operation at Check Halmatpora following information about presence of militants there.
During the searches, militants were spotted offering prayers in the forest area while few among them stood guard and opened fire on forces.
The fire was returned by the troops, triggering an encounter.
Sources said para commandos were rushed to the area to assist troops in operation against the militants.
They said army also pressed drones into service for aerial surveillance.
They said gunfight remained suspended on Tuesday night and search operation was resumed by forces this morning and contact was again established with militants.
In order to prevent the militants from fleeing, the searches were conducted by forces in nearby forest areas of Gulgam and Awoora.
This group of militants is believed to have recently infiltrated and remained active in Kupwara for some time.
A police spokesman said all of the slain militants are understood to be foreigners and part of a freshly infiltrated group.
He said owing to the thick vegetation and low visibility, the forces are mopping the area with due caution.
The spokesman said during searches of the area, huge cache of arms and ammunition and other incriminating materials which include AK 47 rifles, grenades, etc were recovered from the encounter site.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti, has paid rich tributes to five security men killed in Halmatpora Kupwara gunfight today.
She expressed solidarity with the bereaved families of the deceased and prayed for peace to the departed souls.