Five unidentified militants were killed as the Army foiled a fresh infiltration attempt in north Kashmir. It was the first infiltration bid in the Gurez sector of Bandipore district along the Line of Control this year.
Sources said there was prior information about the infiltration of four to five heavily armed militants from the sector and troops had stepped up surveillance in the area.
The militants were intercepted within a kilometre after crossing the LoC and they were engaged by the troops in the dense forest in Kanzalwan, Gurez, nearly 125 km from here around midnight.
“The group of heavily armed militants was challenged and they opened fire, triggering a fierce encounter. The militants divided themselves into small groups as they took cover in rocks and bushes. At dawn, bodies of two militants were recovered. The firefight continued till 1 pm today and three more bodies were recovered from different spots in the forest taking the toll to five,” a source said.
The identity and group affiliation of the slain militants is being established. Defence spokesman Col N N Joshi here said the search operation was continuing in the forest area.
“The alert soldiers effectively foiled the infiltration bid and killed five terrorists who were trying to infiltrate through the LoC in the Gurez sector. Five AK- 47 rifles, 1 RPG (rocket propelled grenade) and 1 UBGL (under barrel grenade launcher) were recovered from the encounter site,” he said.
Gurez was once a key infiltration route for militants and the sector had witnessed many deadly firefights in the past. But in past few years, there has not been much infiltration. However, defence sources said those who attempt to sneak through the Gurez sector were better trained and relatively well equipped as it was the most treacherous stretch to sneak into the Valley along the LoC in Kashmir region.
Defence sources said militants had stepped up efforts to sneak into the Valley as mountain passes along the LoC were likely to get closed by next month due to snow. Infiltration by militants into the Kashmir valley recedes in winter months as the heavy snowfall blocks mountain passes along the LoC.
Prior to the Gurez gunfight, Army had this year foiled 12 attempts by militants to sneak into the Valley from across the LoC. The majority of the infiltration bids were made in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district. The Army said 23 militants were killed in these infiltration attempts.