7 Foreign Mercenaries Shot Dead On LoC
23 February 2003
The Daily Excelsior
POONCH: In a major success, army today gunned down seven infiltrating foreign mercenaries on the Line of Control (LoC) in Mendhar sector and was hunting for two more militants, who continued to play a hide and seek battle. Slain terrorists were affiliated with Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) outfit and most of them were believed to be Pakistanis, official sources said. They said the troops intercepted a group of nine militants when they were heading towards the Indian territory after breaching the LoC from forward area of Hari Gala near Ghani village in Mendhar sector in early hours of this morning. As the militants refused to surrender on being repeatedly asked to do so, the security personnel engaged them in an encounter in the early hours of this morning. A heavy exchange of gun-fighting continued between the two sides throughout the day today. According to sources, Pakistan army also started firing on the Indian positions from their forward posts across the LoC in a bid to give cover to the sneaking ultras. By this afternoon, the security forces eliminated five militants while their two associates were gunned down late in the evening. Two other militants were still trapped in a forest area near Ghani village and were being followed by the security forces, the sources said, adding the forest area has been cordoned off by the troops. However, the search operation had to be suspended tonight due to torrential rains in the area. Infact, according to sources, the security forces had to brave heavy rains during the encounter in the day today. Despite tough weather conditions, the army personnel didn't suffer any casualties in the operation. Bodies of all seven slain terrorists have been recovered from the scene of encounter but their identity hasn't been established so far. All of them were stated to be the foreign mercenaries, most probably, the Pakistani nationals and had their affiliation with Lashkar-e-Toiba outfit, the sources said. Recoveries made from the scene of encounter so far included seven AK- 56 rifles, 13 magazines, 147 rounds, two wireless sets, a bag full of hand grenades and some explosive material. Killing of the seven infiltrators in a single operation was a big blow to the LeT outfit, they added. Sources said the search operation in the village will be resumed tomorrow morning to eliminate two absconding militants.