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'Militants still hiding near LoC'

india Updated: Sep 28, 2013 07:25 IST
Peerzada Ashiq

The army's ongoing operation to thwart a major infiltration bid in north Kashmir's Kupwara district entered the third day on Friday with no major progress on retrieving bodies of the 10-12 militants killed.

The army said the combing operation is "deliberately slow" to avoid any casualty in the tough terrains, where militants have fanned out and are hiding, taking advantage of green cover and mountain crevices. The operation is spread over 5-km with its terrain dotted by trees and has steep slopes and streams.

"We want to wear them (militants) out. They are hiding in different locations. We are deliberately going slow as the terrain is very difficult," Colonel Brijesh Pandey, a Srinagar-based army spokesman, said.

On September 24 night, the army suspected 30 militants, belonging to four militant organisations, made infiltration bids from multiple points from Keran Sector near the Line of Control (LOC) in Kupwara, more than 100-km away from Srinagar.

The army is not ruling out that "a few militants may have returned to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir after being pushed by the alert army personnel".

"The fresh exchange of fire was reported on Friday night in at least three locations," Pandey said.

There were no reports of exchange of fire on Friday. The army, which on Thursday said that it spotted 12 bodies of suspected militants in the area, has failed to retrieve any bodies so far.

"The operation is on. We are searching for the hiding militants and the bodies as well," Pandey added.

The army has described the infiltration as a "massive bid" by militants of the Lashkar-e-Toiba, Jash-e-Muhammad, Al-Badr and Hizbul Mujahideen to replenish militant ranks before winters will set in Kashmir.

More than 30 militants have been killed this year near the LoC.