November 2003 News

Longest-ever Encounter In Kashmir Ends, Major Killed

20 November 2003
The Pioneer

Srinagar: Security forces on Thursday evening gunned down a fidayeen militant at Indira Nagar in Srinagar's cantonment area, ending the longest- ever gunbattle in the history of suicide-strikes in the Kashmir Valley. Two security personnel, including an Army Major and a civilian were killed in the encounter that began on Tuesday while a dozen were wounded. Officials said that the operation was called off in the evening after the body of a militant was recovered from the debris of the house he was holed up in. They expected to find the body of the other militant in the rubble, which is to be cleared later. A Defence spokesman clarified that Colonel P C Roy, who reports said had been killed in the action, was alive and recovering from injuries. He said Colonel Roy's condition was stable. Earlier, the militants killed an Army officer and wounded another when they opened fire on a security column approaching the house where they had taken positions. A Defence spokesman said that the troops of the Rashtriya Rifles, who were carrying out the flushing-out operation, came under fire from the militants at around 7:20 a.m. on Thursday. An Army Major, who was leading the party, was hit and died on the spot. On Wednesday, two Army officers were wounded while rescuing more than a dozen civilians trapped in the vicinity of the encounter site. The encounter had begun on Tuesday evening after a suicide squad stormed the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) camp in the locality, killing a jawan on the spot and injuring three others. Sources confirmed that one fidayeen militant was killed while a BSNL employee, Kuldeep Kumar, also died during the longest fidayeen strike in the Valley's 13-year history of insurgency. Officials said that the guns fell silent in the afternoon but were not sure whether all the militants had been eliminated. Sources said that during the exchange of fire, which also saw the use of mortars by the Army, four houses caught fire and were razed to cinders. Earlier, the Army shelled the telephone exchange building where militants were first spotted. The building, housing the 4000-line telephone exchange, has been completely destroyed. An official of the BSNL said that it would take about 9 months to restore telephone services in the area. The incident, which is regarded as the most serious after a suicide attack on Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed's residence last month, has put security personnel in the Valley on a high alert. This is because it occurred in the highly fortified cantonment area. The encounter site is barely 200 yards from the outer wall of the headquarters of the Srinagar based Army's 15 Corps. Militant outfit Al-Mansoorian has claimed responsibility for the attack.


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