Press Trust of india

Army looking into reports of snipers entering Valley: Rawat

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New Delhi, Oct 29:  Army chief General Bipin Rawat Monday said the Army was looking into reports of snipers entering the Kashmir Valley to target defence personnel.

Three defence personnel have been killed in sniper attacks by Jaish-e-Mohammed militants since mid-September, prompting the law enforcement agencies to re-calibrate their strategy to thwart such strikes by the Pakistan-based group.

Responding to the pattern of attacks, the Army chief said the security forces were studying whether the attacks were carried out by snipers.

“Whether these attacks have been done by snipers or not, this is something we are still studying,” he said.

“But to say that snipers have infiltrated (into the Valley) and that they have sniper weapons (is premature)…because we have not yet recovered any sniper weapon,” Rawat told reporters on the sidelines of an event here.

Based on intelligence inputs, security agencies believe that at least two separate ‘buddy’ groups of the proscribed JeM comprising two militants each  entered the Kashmir Valley in early September and have entrenched themselves in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district with the help of some overground supporters of the outfit.

These militants, according to officials, have been thoroughly trained by Pakistan’s external snooping agency ISI for carrying out sniper attacks in the Valley and have been armed with M-4 carbines, used by the US-led allied forces in Afghanistan.

Rawat, however, said normal weapons could have been used to target the security personnel in the recent attacks as a good rifle has the range of 200-300 metres.

“I always believe in commenting when I have full evidence of,” he added.

When asked about the recent attacks on the Jammu and Kashmir police personnel while he was on his way home, Rawat said it reflects signs of frustration among the militant cadre.

“When you start targeting people who are alone, unarmed or spending time with their family, if they are on leave, it shows signs of frustration. The frustration is setting in and the terrorists are under pressure. They have to prove that they exist, that is why they are doing this,” the Army Chief said.

Imtiaz Mir, 30, was shot dead by militants at Wahibug in the militancy-infested Pulwama district of South Kashmir on Sunday when he was on his way home.

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