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HindustanTimes Fri,31 Oct 2014

More joining holed up militants in Keran, 3 killed in fresh bid

Peerzada Ashiq , Hindustan Times  Srinagar, October 04, 2013
First Published: 17:58 IST(4/10/2013) | Last Updated: 17:59 IST(4/10/2013)

As the army killed three more infiltrating militants on Friday in north Kashmir's Keran sector, which is witnessing a 10-day standoff between militants and soldiers, there is increasing worry among security circles that if militants based in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) were trying to send more manpower to the holed up militants.

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The fresh infiltration bid has come in the same sector, more than 100 km from Srinagar, where the army has been zeroing in on a group of 30-40 militants since September 24.

"A fresh group of militants was spotted in the wee hours of Friday in Keran sector's Gujjar Tur area. They were challenged and in the cross-firing three militants were killed," army spokesman Naresh Vij told the Hindustan Times.

The army is not sure about the strength of the fresh group but "other accompanying militants have been pushed back, according to the spokesman.

Vij refused to comment on the fact that more militants were being pushed into the valley to help the holed up militants.

The fresh bid has occurred around 30 km from Keran sector's Shala Batu village, where the army is engaged in this year's biggest infiltration bid. The army believes 12 militants were killed in the ongoing operation but no bodies have been retrieved so far.

"We are gradually narrowing down the operation. Intermittent firing is on," said Vij on the Shala Batu operation.

Sources, however, told HT that the area of operation has been widened and more elite troops are being rushed to the area. 

Indeed, a few areas of Kupwara, away from the flashpoint, are also being condoned off to stop any militant movement from within the valley into the area where the militants are holed up.
The army has once again refused that any picket, village or territory is under the militants. "These reports are rubbish," said Vij.

Around 6 sq km area is under operation right now. The operation is on in a tough terrain with steep rugged mountain slopes, streams and dense forests. "We are deliberately going slow to avoid any casualty," he added. 

The hiding militants are using global positioning system and apparently are highly trained to sustain for a longer operation inside hills. Militants continue to dominate areas where army's Khokri and Kullar posts are located, sources said.

The army confirmed that top militant commanders visited the launching pads of five militant outfits, including the Lashkar-e-Toiba and Hizbul Mujahideen, in the last week of September. The commanders' visit came just days ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's meeting with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif.

Meanwhile, dozens of pro-militant social networking accounts on Facebook and Twitter claim a portion of territory is under militants and are asking "supporters to pray for the holed up militants". The state cyber police refused to confirm the veracity of these groups and the claim.

PoK-based United Jehad Council supremo Syed Salahuddin on Wednesday also claimed that "the militants were giving a tough time to the Indian Army in border regions".

"Militancy in Kashmir Valley has not come to an end. More people are joining the ranks. We are giving a tough time to the Indian Army in border regions. Mujahideen (militants) are active in Tral, Machil, Tanghdar, Poonch and other areas," said Salahuddin in a telephonic interview to a Srinagar-based news service from Pakistan-occupied Kashmir's capital Muzaffarabad.


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