2 Army Officers, Cop Among 5 SF Personnel, 2 Militants Killed In Handwara

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Srinagar: An army Colonel, a Major, and two soldiers beside a Sub-Inspector of police were killed along with two militants in a gunfight in Chanjimulla Handwara in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district on Sunday.
The gunfight had started at around 3:45 p.m. on Saturday and concluded with the recovery of all bodies on Sunday.
A local news agency quoting sources said that after an initial fierce firefight, there was a lull following which five security men—a Colonel namely Ashutosh Sharma, a Major namely Anup Sood and two soldiers of 21 Rashtriya Rifles besides a Sub Inspector namely Mohammad Sagier Qazi of J&K Police’s Special Operation Group —moved close to a cowshed near the house where the militants had taken refuge after escaping from nearby Rajwara forests on Friday afternoon. However, there was a standoff between them and militants amid inclement weather. The five men lost contact with colleagues on ‘tour of duty’.
Meanwhile, it said, the army rushed more personnel including those from elite para forces to the area in a bid to “rescue the men with whom contact was lost and to neutralize the militants.” The operation was suspended for the night for “obvious reasons” amid inclement weather as it was raining heavily in the area, the news agency said while quoting the sources.
At the first light on Sunday, it said, the worst fears of the security establishment came true as all the five men were found dead. An army officer confirmed the casualties and said that bodies of two militants were also recovered.
A senior police officer also confirmed the death of the five security men and two militants. The officer said that the “operation has been concluded” as bodies of the slain militants have also been recovered along with as two weapons and other “warlike stores”. He said that both the militants were foreigners and their group affiliation and identities are being ascertained.
“In this connection, a case under relevant sections of law has been registered and further investigations were taken up,” the officer told the news agency.
Pertinently, a search operation was started by army’s 15 and 21RR besides 9 para commandoes and police in Rajwar and Mawar forest areas of Handwara on Friday afternoon amid reports that a group of militants were hiding there. The search team had also fired several warning shots during the cordon and search operation following which an encounter ensued. The militants later took shelter inside a residential house in nearby area and army and police cordoned off the village and sealed all possible ways to prevent the militants from escaping. (with inputs from GNS)


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