Anantnag- Another soldier, who had been reported missing since Thursday, was found dead as the ongoing encounter between security forces and terrorists in South Kashmir forests entered third day on Friday.
The operation, which began on Wednesday evening and resulted in the death of three officers of army and police in its initial phase, continued on Friday with Army using drones to locate the terrorists in the forest area on a hilly terrain, falling in Anantnag district.
“One more soldier lost his life in the operations. He had been reported missing since yesterday (Thursday). During joint security operations in Gadool area, forces dropped grenades on terrorist hideout locations using drones,” police officials said.
The army has already stated that it was using new-generation weapons and devices, including strike-capable Heron drones and quad copters to locate the hiding terrorists.
They said that despite the rains, the security forces cordoned-off the area and launched an operation to flush out the terrorists.
“A tight cordon is being maintained in the area,” they added.
The official said that civilians living close to the encounter area have been already evacuated to safer places.
“There is no confirmation whether any terrorist has been killed so far given the tough terrain and forest area,” the official said. “Given dark, high beam lights have been installed and all the layers of cordon have been tightened to ensure terrorists don’t flee.”
Pertinently on Wednesday, during the initial exchange of fire Colonel Manpreet Singh, who was the commanding officer of 19 RR, Major Aashish Dhonchak and DySP Humayun Bhat, the son of former DIG Kashmir Ghulam Muhammad Bhat were killed.
On Thursday, the operation continued in which two soldiers received injuries who were shifted to hospital for treatment.
Notably, the Kokernag encounter is the biggest since August 5 this year in South Kashmir when three soldiers of army’s 34 RR were killed in Halan Manzgam forest area of Kulgam district. On March 30, 2020, five security personnel-including a Colonel, a Major and a sub-inspector were killed in an 18-hour long encounter at north Kashmir’s Handwara.
This was the first encounter in the district in around the last four months as in May contact was established with terrorists in Sagam area of Kokernag, however, they later managed to give slip to forces.
Anantnag district where as per police records just one or two local terrorists including Uzair Khan of Nagam area of Kokernag are active has been very calm as compared to other three districts of South Kashmir.
This year so far, 48 militants have been killed in J&K and among them 38 were foreigners and 10 were locals. Officials said that around 20 security forces were killed this year in terrorist attacks and encounters. A senior official told KNO that after receiving the information about the presence of terrorists in Gadool area, many teams were formed and one of them teams led by a Colonel, Major and the DySP came under heavy fire when they were trying to locate the hideout. “They survived after being hit by bullets but evacuation was delayed due to intense firing,” he said.
The officials said that terrain is very difficult and the operation involves high risk. “Either we had to go back or we had to continue the operation with all precautions. We choose the second option. We believe terrorists are still hiding in their hideout. All escape routes have been blocked,” he said.
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