February 2000 News

3 Indian, 5 Pak troops die in Loc clash

16 February 2000
Asian Age
By Yusuf Jameel

SRINAGAR: The situation on the Line of Control flared up again as Pakistani special troops targeted an Indian outpost in Mendhar sector of Poonch late on Tuesday night, killing at least three Indian soldiers. One Indian jawan was reported missing in the clash between the border patrols, which also left five Pakistani troops dead.

Defence sources here said Indian Army troops patrolling the gaps along the Line of Control to prevent infiltration by terrorists were fired upon by Pakistani soldiers attempting to attack an Indian post at about 10 pm on Tuesday. Indian Army jawans retaliated, "resulting in heavy exchange of fire as adjoining Pakistani posts resorted to an unprecedented heavy volume of unprovoked fire," a defence spokesman said in Jammu.

He added that in the ensuing firefight "approximately five to six Pakistani personnel across the LoC were observed dropping."

The spokesman described it as one more instance of a "deliberate escalation" on the LoC by the Pakistan Army. Other reports said intermittent firing continued in this sector.

This is the second major clash in three weeks. On January 21, 18 Pakistani soldiers were killed when they tried to attack an Indian post in the Pallanwala area of Jammu's Chamb sector.

In Srinagar meanwhile, Islamic militants went on a shooting spree in a busy market, killing two BSF personnel and one local policeman before disappearing into the maze of backstreets on Wednesday afternoon.

The police and witnesses said the BSF's Ram Nanda and Lakshmi Narayan were making purchases from Badshah Chowk here when gunmen shot them dead with small arms hidden beneath their phirans.

A local policeman, Mustaq Ahmed, from the Maisuma area police station, chased the assailants and even succeeded in seizing an SLR from one of them (which the militant had earlier snatched from one of the dying BSF troopers). But when the militants saw a security force GYPsy coming to back up the policeman, they shot Mustaq Ahemd dead in the congested Maisuma area before vanishing in to the dark alleys.

BSF sources added that their men who were shot dead, of 39 Battalion, were shopping before going on leave. This battalion is at present stationed at Bandipore, 56 km north of Srinagar.

In reprisal, colleagues of the slain policeman went on the rampage in the area, targeting passersby and local traders. They continued to fire in the air for about an hour and also torched a shop on Exchange Road and vehicles abandoned by scared passengers. Witnesses say 12 shops, three Maruti cars an two autorickshaws were burned as the policemen did not permit fire engines to search the site. Several other shops and vehicles were also damaged. The police and paramilitary reinforcements laid siege to the localities to conduct a search for the assailants. Bazars and roads were soon deserted.

Earlier on Wednesday, an improvised explosive device went off near a mosque in the Shaheeganj residential area, about two km from Badshah Chowk, causing minor damage to the mosque wall.


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