Army braces for final assault in Keran

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SRINAGAR: The Indian Army is bracing for the final assault on a group of militants entrenched in a remote forest area  in the Keran sector of north Kashmir as the stand-off along the Line of Control (LoC) entered the 13th day on Sunday.

Sporadic gunfire was exchanged between the army soldiers and the militants, who are reported to be not more than 50 in number, but are well positioned.

“The operation is still in progress. No fresh casualties have been reported on either side so far,” sources in the Army said.

Top army generals including Northern command chief Lt. Gen. Sanjiv Chachra and GOC 15 Corps, Lt. Gen. Gurmit Singh visited the affected area on Sunday. 

A detachment of elite commandos from the army’s para battalion has been inducted for the final push. The thrust of the operation will be to break the supply chain and take out the militants based in Shalabuth village close to the LoC. “The supply chain is the biggest worry. Once this chain is cut, it will take very little time to eliminate the militants, no matter how battle-hardened they are. We want to dry up their supplies. For that reason, these commandos will come in handy. They will choke them to a point where we will be able to knock them off,” news reports quoting an army officer said.

The para battalion deployed on Saturday will be supplemented by the brigade-size troops.

Conventionally, a brigade has four battalions with 1,000 men each.

The operation is going on in a vast area along the LoC, and so far seven militants have been killed – three in Gujjardoor village on Friday and four in the Fateh Gali area of the sector on Saturday. 

Earlier, the Army had said 10-12 militants were believed to have been killed in the village, but the bodies could not be retrieved as the operation against the remaining militants was in progress.

Five soldiers have been injured in the gunbattle since the operation began. The Army called reports that some posts had been captured by infiltrators absurd, saying the troops are in total control of the operation.

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