Two army men including an officer who suffered critical injuries during a gunfight with militants at Imam Sahab area of Shopian in South Kashmir on Thursday morning died at a military hospital here, defence sources said.
They said that a joint team of Army’s 62 RR, SOG and CRPF during the wee hours on Thursday launched a cordon-and-search operation at village Matribugh, Zoipora in the southern district at around 2.30 AM, following a tip off about the presence of some militants.
As the joint team of forces cordoned the area and intensified the combing operation, the militants hiding in the area opened fire triggering off an encounter, the officials said.
In the initial gunfight, an army Major identified as Kamlash Pandey along with two soldiers, Sepoy Tanjin Chhultim and Kripal Singh sustained bullet injuries, the official said.
All the injured troopers were evacuated and airlifted to military’s 92 base hospital in Srinagar for treatment, police said.
However, Army Major Kamlesh and sepoy Tanjin Chhultim succumbed to injuries in the military hospital.
SSP Shopian, Sri Ram Ambarkar while confirming the killing of two army men including the officer said that the search operation to track down the militant group is still going on in the area.
Sources said that the militants believed to be three in number managed to escape while taking advantage of darkness.
Meanwhile, militant outfit Hizbul Mujahudeen has claimed the responsibility of the attack in which two army men including a Major were killed and one soldier suffered critical injuries.
Hizb operational spokesman Burhan-u-din in a tele statement to a local news gathering agency said that an Army Major and five army men were killed in the attack.
“Field operational commander congratulates the militants and announced cash reward for them,” the statement said.
Defence spokesman Col Rajesh Kalia said “The spirited and daring officer, Major Kamlesh Pandey, joined the Army in June 2012 and hailed from Almora, Uttarakhand. He is survived by his wife and a two-year-old daughter.
“The 25-year-old martyr Sepoy Tanzin Chhultim of Lahaul Spiti, Himachal Pradesh, had joined the Army in September 2012. He is proudly remembered by his comrades as a highly professional soldier and a true patriot. He is survived by his parents.”
He said the bodies of the two soldiers will be taken to their native places for the last rites with full military honours.
“The Army stands in solidarity with the bereaved families and remains committed to their dignity and well being,” Kalia said.