Battle Rages On In Keran Forests

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Ready to assist Army in Keran operations: IAF chief

SRINAGAR/ KUPWARA: A fresh group of militants managed to enter 500 meters into this side of Kashmir after cutting the LOC fence even as fierce battles raged for the 11th day Friday in the dense forests of Keran sector between militants and Indian army.

Reports said as the massive operation against 30-40 heavily armed militants entrenched in forest area of Keran sector entered its eleventh day, the Army faced another group of militants at a different location in the same sector on Friday.

Three militants were killed near Kolang Post at the Line of Control (LoC) in Keran Sector, an army spokesman said. Militants had managed to enter 500 meters into Indian controlled territory by cutting the fence erected along LOC to prevent infiltration.

Sources said that troops of 17-Punjab regiment spotted a group of 4 to 5 militants near Kolang Post in Keran sector.

“The intruders after cutting the fence moved about 500 meters into this side at about 01:30 a.m on the intervening night of October 3 and 4,” sources said.  

The group after being challenged by the troops opened indiscriminate fire ensuing a gun battle which resulted in the death of three militants, the official said.

A senior Army official said that we recovered two militant bodies along with one AK-47, one AK 74 rifle, one magazine, four pistols, one Yeasu.

“The body of third militant was lying just across the LoC along Kilpara Nar,” the official said, adding that search operation in the area was still in progress.

The Kolang Post is some 7 to 8 kilometers away from the Shalabuth area where militants have allegedly occupied some Indian positions, including Khokri and Kullar posts. Biswal and Ahithana posts are in Pakistani side opposite to the Indian posts. 

On Wednesday, GOC 15 Corps Lt General Gurmit Singh, told reporters in Srinagar that 10-12 infiltrators had been killed in Shalbuth operation so far, but could not explain the absence of bodies or weapons.

In New Delhi, Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh dismissed fears that the operation in Keran was similar to the one that had developed in Kargil, and stressed that it was only “a matter of time” before the infiltrators were flushed out.

“It is nothing like that (Kargil). It was an infiltration attempt by 30 to 40 terrorists,” Gen Singh told reporters. “They (infiltrators) have been stopped, prevented. Some of them have been neutralised. Operations are on to flush them out. It is a matter of time.”

Security agencies were mired in dilemma as they fail to intercept the phone calls of entrenched militants, the sources said. They believe the infiltrators were neither using satellite phones nor any mobile devices.  

“The security agencies in a meeting today expressed serious concern that during last 11 days, the militants who have allegedly occupied the posts might have dumped the daily essentials and ammunition so as to survive for a long time,” sources said.

They said there are some intelligence reports that some 7 to 8 militants have managed to sneak into this side through the Ustad, Kalong, Eagle and Sonapandi posts which, according to sources are short-cut routes and favorable to the infiltrating militants.

“Through the Ustad Post, the infiltrating militants managed to reach Manchtir and Chowkibal forests, through Kalong post, they can reach Batpora, Rashanpora and Halmatpora forests while as through Eagle Post, they can reach Nowgam and Rajwar and through Sonapandi route they can reach Macchhil, Kalaroos and Lolab forests,” these sources added.

IAF READY TO STEP IN
Meanwhile Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne today said Indian Air Force was ready to assist Army in its operations against heavily-fortified infiltrators in Keran sector of Kashmir. 

“We are all monitoring it (the situation). It’s a very small and localized operation. They (army) have UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles). 

“All the means are fully available with army. If they still need some assistance, we are there to provide it. There is no problem,” Browne told journalists during the annual interaction with media on Air Force Day. 

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