Anantnag encounter enters day 4: Challenges amidst dense forests and deep ditches
A day prior to this encounter, authorities uncovered a Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terror module in Baramulla, leading to the arrest of two militant associates and the recovery of arms and ammunition.
In a counter-terrorism operation near the Line of Control in Uri, security forces engaged in a fierce encounter with terrorists in Baramulla district of Jammu and Kashmir, successfully neutralizing one terrorist.
A day prior to this encounter, authorities uncovered a Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terror module in Baramulla, leading to the arrest of two militant associates and the recovery of arms and ammunition. The arrested individuals were identified as Zaid Hassan Malla and Mohammad Arif Channa.
Intelligence Leads to Action
The operation began when intelligence reports indicated the presence of terrorists in the dense Gadul forests of Kokernag on Tuesday night. A search operation was initiated, but the terrorists remained elusive. Subsequent information revealed their location atop a hill.
Launch of the Operation
In the early hours of Wednesday, security forces made the decision to launch an assault on the terrorists. Navigating the challenging path to reach the hill, which featured narrow terrain, mountains, dense forests on one side, and a deep ditch on the other, was further complicated by the pitch darkness of the night.
Fierce Encounter Unfolds
As the forces approached the cave where the terrorists were holed up, the terrorists detected their presence and initiated indiscriminate firing. Trapped on the narrow path with no cover and the imminent danger of falling, the security personnel found themselves in a perilous situation without the means to retaliate.
Injured Personnel and Extraction Challenges
The intense exchange of gunfire and the demanding terrain made the extraction of injured personnel, including Colonel Singh, the commanding officer of the 19 Rashtriya Rifles, company commander Major Dhonchak, and Deputy SP Bhat, unfeasible. They could only be evacuated to a hospital in the morning.
The encounter has been ongoing for nearly 72 hours, with security forces maintaining a tight cordon around the hill. Various tactics, including the use of drones to drop explosives, rocket launchers, and gunfire, have been employed, but the challenging geography of the area has hindered the forces from achieving complete control.
Highly Trained Terrorists and Informer Suspicions
Sources suggest that the number of terrorists involved may exceed the initial estimate of two to three. Among them is Uzair Khan, a Lashkar-e-Taiba recruit with intimate knowledge of the area. The prolonged duration of the encounter, the advanced training and weaponry of the terrorists, and the possibility of an informant betraying the security forces have raised significant challenges.
In light of these circumstances, Additional Director General of Police (Kashmir) Vijay Kumar has cautioned retired police and Army officers against prematurely assuming an "ambush hypothesis." One soldier remains missing, and at least two personnel have been injured as the operation continues.