5 Civilians Held, Handed Over To Police: Army

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Combing Ops On In Kupwara Forests 

SRINAGAR – A massive combing operation has been launched by Army and Jammu and Kashmir police in the forests of Lolab and adjoining Nowgam areas of the North Kashmir’s border district of Kupwara to track down holed up militants even as five civilians were taken into custody and later handed over to police. 

Following intelligence inputs, reports said, army’s 18 and 28 Rashtriya Rifles and state police launched a search operation four days ago in the forests of Warnav (Lolab). After a brief encounter, spread over a couple of hours, which suggested their presence, six to eight militants holed up there managed their escape from the area.   

Meanwhile, troops arrested five people, said to be civilians from the forest area and believed to have gone to the nearby forests to collect firewood, early morning hours yesterday, reports quoted an army official as having said, adding they were questioned and handed over to police. 

“The operation is being conducted with utmost care to avoid civilian casualty or any collateral damage. We have been informed that people are going to the forests to collect dead wood for winter months,” the official said, adding that when troops were moving around, they saw a group of five persons when there was no light. However, he said, the troops avoided firing and captured them all and handed over to police. They seem to be civilians, he said. 

He said a large number of militants were waiting at the launching pads across the Line of Control to sneak into this side before the infiltration routes are closed due to heavy snowfall. “The troops are on high alert to foil any attempt by the militants to infiltrate into this side,” he added. 

During recent weeks, reports said, the areas all along the LoC in Uri, Nowgam and Kupwara sectors had seen infiltration attempts leading to encounters. In one of them, two militants and three troopers were killed recently.

 

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