The Indian Army on Saturday claimed that the terrorists who were killed in Rajouri and Reasi districts of Jammu and Kashmir in the past week were intercepted and eliminated in time before they could cause major damage.
"It was a quick response of the army that helped trace and kill the terrorists in Kalakote area of Rajouri bordering Reasi," claimed Maj Gen MM Rai, General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the counter-insurgency Uniform Force, at a news conference in Reasi on Saturday.
"This was one of the biggest operations in the area in recent years," Maj.Gen. Rai said.
He was referring to the killing of 16 Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists, mostly Pakistanis, in a series of encounters in Rajouri and Reasi from March 27 to April 2.
During this operation, about two battalions of the Indian Army (nearly 1,000) troops were engaged in day and night searches and intermittent gun fights across forests and undulating hills.
Maj.Gen. Rai said the "terrorists were intercepted and eliminated in time as their designs appeared to be quite dangerous, given the arms and ammunition they possessed. All the material with them was of Pakistan origin".
It was suspected that the militants were on their way to Mahore and other surrounding hilly areas in Reasi district, where dense forests and caves offer natural hideouts.
Maj.Gen. Rai said the army has stepped up vigil and all the major routes, through dense jungles and hills, were being "intensely patrolled".
Four terrorists and an army soldier were killed in a gun battle in Reasi district Friday.
The slain men are believed to have stealthily crossed into the state at Pallanwalla, about 50 km north of Jammu, March 23 and travelled up to Kalakote in Rajouri and Behma forests in Reasi district.
Military spokesman Lt.Col. Biplab Nath said the army began to track down the guerrillas after a woman alerted them.
"A lady told soldiers about the suspicious movement of strangers," said the officer.
Farmers in Pallwallan close to the Line of Control (LoC), which divides Jammu and Kashmir between India and Pakistan, had spotted the infiltrators from Pakistan March 23.
One of them had asked the shortest route to Rajouri. The woman to whom the question was put relayed the information to the nearest army camp.
The state police were also alerted.
The first contact with the militants was made in Dharmsal area of Kalakote in Rajouri March 27 and two terrorists were killed.
The second contact took place in Thrayth Tuesday, triggering an 18-hour gun battle that lasted into Wednesday and left four guerrillas and three soldiers dead.
Six other terrorists were killed in Rajouri district on Thursday.