SRINAGAR: The special forces of Army which were rushed to battle zone Shalabuth in Keran sector last week fought pitched battle on Monday with entrenched militants as army began final push to flush them out.
Militants, reportedly numbering not more than 50 have, according to some reports, occupied the area since September 23. On Monday there was first contact between militants and special forces since they were deployed there on October 2.
Official sources said that soldiers of 9 Para and 4 Para along with personnel from 3/3 GR, 15 RR, 16 GR and 5 ASSAM have begun slow advance towards occupied area. Advancing army personnel were firing mortar shells from long distance as militants remain entrenched in strategically important positions at higher elevations.
Sources said that army was moving cautiously as the area consists of difficult rocky terrain with an altitude of 9000 to 10000 ft that favours militants. They (militants) have adjusted themselves in ordinary hideouts, these sources said.
Intermittent exchange of firing was on when reports last came in Monday afternoon.
Sources also said that Indian Air Force (AIF) was also asked to remain on standby in case required.
Pertinently, on October 4, three militants were killed after Armys 17 Punjab foiled an infiltration bid near Kolang Post at Line of Control (LoC) in the same sector . However, the infiltrators managed to cross 500 meters into this side by cutting the fence of Indian side.
On Oct 7, Armys 12 Gadwal killed four militants who had crossed about 3 kilometers inside Indian territory by cutting fence along Indian side near Fateh Gali.
3 Services Chiefs Brief PM
A report from New Delhi said three services chiefs on Monday met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at his official residence 7, Race Course Road and briefed him about the operation in Keran sector along Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu & Kashmir.
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