Decorated colonel among 5 killed in J-K’s Handwara; 2 terrorists shot down
A highly-decorated colonel of the Indian Army was among five security personnel killed during more than 12-hour operation to flush terrorists out of a house in Handwara in north Kashmir, officials said on Sunday.
Two terrorists were also killed in the encounter that began around 3:30pm on Saturday after they took hostages inside a house in Chanjmulla area of Handwara.
Colonel Ashutosh Sharma, the commanding officer of the army’s 21 Rashtriya Rifles battalion, Major Anuj, a Lance Naik and a rifleman and sub-inspector Shakeel Qazi of the Jammu and Kashmir police were killed after the firefight with terrorists holed up in the house.
Officials said their bodies have been recovered from the encounter site. The civilians have been rescued, they added.
Throughout the night as the gun battle raged, several Pakistani accounts on Facebook and Telegram ran propaganda against the operation.
Col Sharma had been decorated twice for bravery and had been part of several successful counter-terrorism operations in the past.
The commanding officer of 21 Rashtriya Rifles along with four others had entered the house to evacuate the trapped people after the firing had stopped for an hour.
The encounter began on Saturday afternoon after the army and state police launched a joint operation following a tip-off about the presence of terrorists in the area. The terrorists hid inside a house and took the residents as hostages.
“A team comprising five army and J&K Police personnel entered the target area occupied by the terrorists to evacuate the civilians. The team entered the target area and successfully extricated the civilians,” the army said in a statement.
“However, during the process, the team was subjected to a heavy volume of fire by the terrorists. In the ensuing firefight, two terrorists were eliminated and the team of five… comprising two army officers, two soldiers and one police sub-inspector attained martyrdom,” it said.