Five suspected militants were killed and two soldiers sustained injuries when the Army intercepted a militant group that was hiding in an abandoned house in Kupwara’s Dragmulla village. The encounter site is barely a kilometre from one of the Army’s biggest camps in Kupwara, the Dragmulla garrison.
The Army said that its troops, along with the Special Operation Group (SOG) of the Jammu and Kashmir police, had launched an operation near the forests late Friday night. Officials said that when soldiers of two Rashtriya Rifles battalions and SOG personnel approached a house belonging to one Syed Shah, they came under heavy fire. The assault teams retaliated, resulting in a nine-hour encounter.
The Army’s elite Para Commandos were also called in for assistance. The Army later used mortars to kill the suspected militants.
“Five militants were killed and five AK rifles were recovered from the encounter site,” Army spokesman Lt Col N N Joshi said, adding that two soldiers were also injured in the operation. “The injured soldiers were evacuated to the hospital and their condition is stable.”
Joshi said that input about militant presence was received Friday night and the Army established a tight cordon around the hideout. “The bodies of the militants have been handed over to the police for identification,” he said.
Police sources said the militants are possibly affiliated to the Jasih-e-Mohammad militant group and that they could have entered the Valley from Keran or Tangdhar to set up bases in Kashmir. “Some groups of militants recently managed to sneak into the Valley through Kupwara sector and there is a possibility that these men could have been fresh infiltrators,” sources said.
Police also said that the militants could have possibly been hiding in Dragmulla for the last few days.
Recently, the Army’s top commander in Kashmir, GOC 15 Corps, had warned that there could be fresh infiltration attempts from across the LoC as militants were waiting at “launch pads” to sneak into the Valley. He said some groups had managed to sneak into the Valley due to less snowfall on the upper ridges of Kupwara.