Gunfight in Kupwara continues, toll reaches ten

Srinagar: Five security forces’ personnel, including three Army men, were killed in an ongoing encounter in the dense forests of the frontier district of Kupwara in north Kashmir, officials said.

Five militants believed to be foreigners and part of a freshly infiltrated group were also killed in the encounter between militants and security forces that has been going on since yesterday.

However, army confirmed that four bodies of the militants have been recovered so far.

Besides two policemen, as many Territorial Army men and an Army trooper were killed in the encounter, which started yesterday in the dense forests of Arampora, about 12 kms from the district headquarters of Kupwara, the officials said.

The police identified the deceased soldiers as Mohammad Ashraf Rather and Naik Ranjeet Singh of 160 battalion TA while two SOG men as Mohammad Yousuf Cheche (SPO) of Kachama, Kupwara and Deepak Pandit of Nagrota, Jammu.

“All of them were critically injured and taken to medical institute at the nearby army camp where all of them succumbed to injuries,” a police source said.

Meanwhile, reports said that one Army man also went missing during the gunfight.

However, there was no official confirmation when the report was last filed.

Interestingly, the encounter has highlighted gaps in the Army’s vigil along the Line of Control (LoC) as the group of militants had managed to sneak in nearly 8 kms after crossing two ridges of the Shamsabari mountain range.

The militants had met their “reception party” (over ground workers and militants already present in the Valley) after crossing the LoC and were proceeding towards Kupwara town when they were spotted by police personnel, the officials said.

The militants, who were hiding inside a mosque, started running towards the forest, but not before four of them were killed by the security forces yesterday.

The others, believed to be two in number, have covered themselves at a height and were firing on the approaching security forces, they said.

Sources said that two more SOG men including Sub Inspector Harvinder Singh, army soldier and a CRPF personnel have also suffered injuries during the encounter. 

Police said that a huge cache of arms, ammunition and other incriminating materials which include AK 47 rifles, grenades, etc were recovered from the encounter site.

Police also said that owing to the thick vegetation and low visibility, the security forces are mopping the area with due caution.

“In this connection a case has been registered and investigation has already been started under the relevant provisions of the law by the Police,” police added.

While the firefight was intermittently going on throughout the night, it intensified since morning and was going on when this report was filed.

The encounter started when a group of militants believed to be seven in number fired upon a joint team of army and SOG at Check Fatehkhan forests.

The army has also rushed Para commandos to the area yesterday evening. (With PTI inputs)

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