Gunbattle On In Keran For Last 9 Days: GoC

SRINAGAR: Indian army was locked in a major gun battle with a group of militants who have taken up positions in Keran sector of North Kashmir’s Kupwara district but army denied reports that Pakistani Army has occupied any part of the area.

“The operation enters into 9th day today,” General Officer Commanding 15 Corps Lt Gen Gurmeet Singh said while talking to reporters, adding that “We are not in a hurry to close the operation in order to prevent the casualties.” 

GOC said the area is rigid and rocky with an altitude of 9000 to 10000 ft which in all ways favors militants. “They have adjusted themselves in ordinary hideouts and repeatedly fire upon Army,” he said and added that militants were highly trained as compared to previous ones.

“The reports that some of our posts have been captured by infiltrators are absurd. However, our five soldiers are injured but they have been hospitalized, Lt Gen Singh said, adding that the army had a specific intelligence inputs which proved correct.

“From the strength and the multiple places they attempted to infiltrate suggest that there were some special troops. This is a different kind of infiltration which we have witnessed in the past,” he added.

The GOC 15 Corps said that it is the duty of the army to remain alert to take any kind of challenge and the army is showing its best professional capability to avoid any causality from its side. While referring to the media reports that some of the army posts were captured by militants, he said that it seems there are some vested interests who give inputs for the negative propaganda against the army.

He said it seems that the latest infiltration bid at Keran sector was an attempt by Border Action Team (BAT), a blend of Pakistani army and militants. The GOC said that the number of infiltrators is large. “Yesterday night some 10 to 12 militants tried to enter the cordoned area,” he added.

Asked if the army retrieved bodies of militants at Tangdhar it had claimed to be killed on September 26, Lt Gen Singh said that the dead bodies were not important for him but the operation was carried as per its plans.

Pertinently, some media reports had suggested that Pakistani soldiers on September 23 occupied Shala Bhata village in Keran sector during a routine rotation of troops on the Indian side. But an army spokesman said the soldiers foiled a massive infiltration bid in the Keran sector last week, in which at least 12 infiltrators were killed. He said the search for other militants, who might have sneaked into the village, was still on. 

The General, however, refused to give further details. “Once the operation is over, we’ll accordingly provide detailed report to media,” he said.

When questioned about the killing of 60-year-old man in Machchill Sector, General Gurmit denied the person was a civilian. “The killed person was a militant aged about 40 to 45 years who was gunned down by our jawans after he was seen crossing to this side on September 23,” he said.

When asked about the retrieval of militant bodies lying in the area, General Gurmit said, “This is not an issue of importance for us, we just want to finish the operation without giving casualties”. He also rubbished the reports that Pakistani Army has taken control of any village.

Meanwhile, another soldier sustained bullet wounds today in an ongoing operation at Shalabatoo in Keran Sector. The injured trooper was immediately airlifted to Army’s 92-Base Hospital here in Srinagar. The total number of injured troopers, so far, in the 9-day-long operation has reached six. 

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