iconimg Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Toufiq Rashid , Hindustan Times
Srinagar, October 03, 2013
Intermittent firing is on between army and a group of 30 to 40 militants in the border area of Keran sector in north Kashmir as the encounter entered 10th day on Thursday.
While sources say the militants have been restricted to a small area in Shalbhutu village on the LoC, army has failed to confirm any more casualties to the militant side.

At a press conference last week, army had claimed that 10 to 12 militants were killed in the first three days of the encounter.

So far, no bodies or arms have been recovered by army.

Speaking to Hindustan Times, an army spokesman said there was no change in the "status quo".  "The militants have been restricted to an area and firing between the two sides is still continuing," said army spokesman Naresh Vij.

"Five of our men have been injured but all of them are stable," he added.

The army, however, had denied that any Indian posts or villages were under the control of Pakistani forces, as reported by a certain section of the media.

The encounter had begun after an infiltration bid at the Keran Mendhar sector in north Kashmir on September 24, a few days before the Prime Ministers of India and Pakistan met in New York.

The area is at a height of 10,000 to 12,000 feet with dense forests and thick undergrowth. "The rugged terrain and unpredictable weather are making the operation a challenge," Vij added.

Fresh gunfire started after some movement was seen on Wednesday night. "10-12 militants were seen in the cordoned area, resulting in fire-fight," Lt Gen Gurmeet Singh, Commander of 15th Corps, had told the media on Wednesday.

The army commander denied that Pakistani troops had occupied a ghost village near the LoC and were using abandoned homes to fire at Indian soldiers.

He, however, said infiltrators had the backing of "special troops", but stopped short of calling them Pakistani armymen.

Reports in the media had suggested that some posts in the area were occupied by militants after they lay vacant post change of guard from one regiment to the other.