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With death of 2 more soldiers, Keran toll reaches 10

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Srinagar: The death toll in the anti-infiltration bid in Keran sector of Kupwara has mounted to 10 with Army confirming that five of its soldiers got killed during the operation.

As already reported, five militants and three soldiers got killed as Army tried to scuttle an infiltration bid along the Line of Control (LoC) in Keran sector of Kupwara district.

“Inclement weather, eight-foot-deep snow and low visibility could not deter a five-member Army squad from countering a new group of five infiltrated terrorists of the banned Jaish-e-Mohammed in the higher reaches of north Kashmir and killing all of them, before sacrificing their lives,” a defense spokesman said here today.

The squad of 4-Para regiment was deployed after reports came in about a possible infiltration by a group of militants in the Keran sector of Kupwara district in the early hours of April 2, officials said.

“After initial contact, it was not immediately clear whether they had returned to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir or were hiding in the heights taking advantage of low visibility and a thick cover of snow-capped pine trees near the Line of Control”, they said.

There was no movement on April 2 and it was perceived that they might have returned but from early hours of April 3, some movement was noticed along some ‘Gujjar Dhoks’ — temporary shelters of nomads used during the summer, said the defense sources.

“A plan was immediately chalked out and the Special Forces squad drawn from 4-Para regiment reached the heights of Shamsabari range so that the terrorists could be sandwiched between the approaching Army troops from top and bottom of the hills.

“The descend of the Special Forces squad from Shamsabari Range on April 4 was spotted by the terrorists holed up in the ‘dhoks’, ensuing an exchange of heavy gun fire,” said the defense sources.

The sources said that Subedar Sanjeev Kumar (hailing from Himachal Pradesh), Haveldar Davendra Singh (Uttarakhand), para troopers Bal krishan (Himachal Pradesh), Amit Kumar (Uttarakhand) and Chhatrapal Singh (Rajasthan) made their sledge fall on the ‘dhok’ to allow other squads to hit the militants.

The officials said that the five troopers with the help of other squads neutralised the five infiltrators. The subedar was dead during the intense gunfight while the four others succumbed either on way to hospital or at the 92-base hospital, they said.

A defence spokesperson said, “Indian Army launched a daring operation at the Line of Control and engaged Pakistan-supported infiltrators in a close quarter battle in heavy snow, neutralising the entire infiltrating batch of five.”

“Four soldiers under the command of a Junior Commissioned Officer from one of the most professional Para SF Units were heli-dropped near the LoC after information on the infiltrators was received. An intense hand-to-hand battle ensued and all five terrorists were eliminated,” the spokesperson said.

A huge quantity of arms and ammunition was recovered from the site of the encounter besides communication sets which were being analysed, they added.

A wreath-laying ceremony was held at the headquarters of XV Corps where Lieutenant General B S Raju gave glowing tributes to the brave soldiers. Later their mortal remains were despatched to their respective homes in an Indian Air Force plane.

“Indian Army salutes the brave hearts killed in action and shall continue to protect its borders from inimical forces at all costs at all times,” the spokesperson said.

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