SRINAGAR: Army and police continued the combing and search operation for third consecutive day on Thursday in forest area of Halmatpura in border district of Kupwara in Jammu and Kashmir, where five foreign militants of Lashkar-e-Toiba and equal number of security men including three soldiers and two policemen were killed in two-day-long encounter.
Defence spokesman Colonel Rajesh Kalia told New Indian Express that the combing and search operation in the forest area of Halmatpura continued for the third consecutive day today.
He said the troops were sanitising the area to ensure that none of the militants are present or hiding in the area.
Army and Special Operations Group (SOG) of J&K police had conducted combing operation in the forest area on Tuesday afternoon after a brief shootout with the militants.
During the combing operation, security personnel established contact with the militants, who fired on them. The gunfight between militants and soldiers continued for two days during which five militants and three soldiers and two policemen were killed and a Special Police Officer (SPO) injured.
Inspector General of Police (IGP) Kashmir, S P Pani said the operation is in concluding stage.
He said searches are going on at some places.
Terming the operation in forest area as very difficult operation, IGP said, “It was in open area with thick forest cover and vegetation. The security forces are completing the operation by taking lot of caution”.
He said all the five slain militants were foreigners.
“As per the material seized from the deceased militants, they belonged to Lashkar-e-Toiba,” he said.
Pani said large quantities of arms and ammunition were recovered from the slain militants.
A police official said it seems that the slain militants had infiltrated recently and were killed in the gunfight before moving to the hinterland.
“We are ascertaining whether the group comprised five militants only. The combing operation is going on,” he said
Meanwhile, wreath-laying ceremony for the slain army and policemen were held at army headquarters and police control room respectively.
The slain army men were identified as Havaldar Jorabar Singh, Naik Ranjeet Khalkho and Naik Mohammad Ashraf Rather.
Singh, 45, had joined Army in 1993 and hailed from Kangra, Himachal Pradesh. He is survived by wife and three children.
Naik Ranjeet, 33, had joined Army in 2001 and hailed from Ranchi, Jharkhand. He is survived by parents, brother and three sisters.
Naik Ashraf, 35, had joined Army in 2004 and belonged to Kralpora in Kupwara district of J&K. He Jammu is survived by wife and a daughter.
The deceased policemen were identified as Deepak Thusoo of Nagrota, Jammu and SPO Mohammad Yousuf of Kachhama, Kupwara.
Thusoo is survived by aged parents, wife, 12-years-old son, 7-years -old daughter and an unmarried sister while SPO Yousuf is survived by aged parents, three sons and two minor daughters.