Afghan militants set up bases in Kashmir Valley
3 December 2003
The Hindustan Times
Jammu: More than 500 militants, mostly of Afghan origin, have fled Pakistan and set up bases in the Kashmir Valley. The major concentration is in the Sonamarg-Gund belt overlooking the Srinagar-Leh highway.Belonging mostly to the Al-Badr outfit, the terrorists have constructed cement bunkers at the forested mountainous heights of Gund on the edge of Srinagar district, bordering Zojila.The ultras have stored heavy weaponry — LMGs, anti-aircraft guns, AK-56 assault rifles, RPGs — and huge amount of rations in the bunkers that were constructed by commandeering the locals.According to sources, the militants had set up similar fortified bunkers in Kupwara and Ajas-Bandipore in Baramulla.'It is clear from their height and built that these militants are not from PoK,' said a senior officer of the security forces. 'And though they have recruited some locals in their ranks, they are neither Punjabi nor Kashmiri-speaking.'They are using sheepskin as 'inners' to keep themselves warm through the severe winters.Reports from the Gund area have confirmed the heavy presence of militants. Sources said that the ultras had given no clue to the locals about their plans.Though aware of the heavy presence of the terrorists, the security forces are keeping operations against them on hold for two reasons. Any ground operation would result in huge casualties. Launching aerial operations is also risky. The militants have the weaponry to down flying machines, sources said.Terror tentacles.Men: Around 500 Afghan militants have set up bases in Kupwara and Baramulla and the area overlooking the Srinagar-Leh highway.STOCKS: They have LMGs, anti-aircraft guns, AK-56 assault rifles and RPGs in their bunkersACTION: Considering the arsenal they possess, security forces have put on hold any action for fear of heavy casualties.