4 jawans of Army’s elite unit killed in Kupwara gunfight

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Old 06-Oct-2015
Post 4 jawans of Army’s elite unit killed in Kupwara gunfight

Four jawans of the Rashtriya Rifles, Army’s elite counter-insurgency unit, were killed in an overnight firefight at north Kashmir’s frontier Kupwara district, while an unidentified militant was shot dead in a separate encounter in the same district.
Two of the four slain jawans of the 6 RR Battalion hail from Punjab. They have been identified as Sepoy Surinder Singh of 6 Sikh from Ludhiana, Punjab, Naik Gurdev of 5 Sikh from Amritsar, Punjab, Sepoy Surendra of 266 field Regt from Alwar, Rajasthan, and Lance Naik Botta Satyam of 11 field Regt from Andhra Pradesh.
They were killed in dense Hafruda forests of Handwara, 85 km northwest of Srinagar, when troops and the J&K police launched a search operation after a tip-off about the presence of militants there. The Hafruda forests are known for deadly encounters in which the Army has reported heavy losses.
Sources say militants are keen to reach vast Hafruda forests as they get less vulnerable in the area, which is sparsely guarded by troops.
"The dense forests and thick undergrowth in the forest have made it a favoured hideout for militants over the years. Militants here are at advantage and there is always a possibility that you may be targeted from any direction. That’s the reason for lot of Army casualties in the area," said a defence official.
Sources said the latest encounter broke in the forest area yesterday evening. "The first contact with the militants was established for brief time on Sunday evening and militants managed to escape in the fading light. It is believed that the militant group later scattered in vast Hafruda forests. As the troops were combing the forest area, hiding militants, who were strategically placed, opened heavy fire on a column of troops. Four Army men were injured out of whom three succumbed to injuries before being evacuated,” a source said.
After the firefight, the Army has expanded its operation across the Hafruda range that connects Handwara to Kupwara. Additional troops have cordoned off a vast area of the forest and elite para-commandoes have also been engaged to track the militants. The Army has also pressed helicopters into service to trace the militants.
While the combing operation in Hafruda was on, another operation was launched in Lolab, 35 km from the area. One unidentified militant has been killed in the gunbattle so far.
Gareeb Das, Deputy Inspector General of Police, north Kashmir, said both operations were on.
On Sunday, two militants of Jaish-e-Mohammad, including its top man Adil Pathan, were killed in a gunfight in south Kashmir’s volatile Tral area.

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