February 2006 News

Army expresses regret over killing

22 February 2006
The Hindu
Sandeep Dikshit

New Delhi: The Army on Wednesday expressed regret over the killing of four civilians, including children, in a cordon and search operation in Jammu and Kashmir which went awry. 'It is a sad thing and it goes against our policy of keeping civilians out of harm's way. We deeply regret what has happened,' said a senior officer at the army headquarters here. Two soldiers injured However, the Army said the militants, who launched an attack with grenade launchers, killed two of the civilians. Two soldiers were injured in the firing that occurred when the troops cordoned off a village in north Kashmir and were about to evacuate the villagers before taking on the militants holed up in a house. The firing by the militants led to an exchange of fire, in which two more civilians were hit. 'We stopped pursuing the militants and began rushing the injured soldiers and civilians to hospital. While one civilian was killed on the spot, the other three died in the hospital. The condition of the two injured soldiers is stable. We don't know by whose bullets the other two civilians were killed but we are reasonably sure that the first two were killed by the militants in order to create chaos,' said the officer. July incident In July last, an Army ambush party in a militancy prone area shot dead three children mistaking them for militants. The issue snowballed into public protests, leading the then Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, to lodge a protest with the chief of the Army's Northern Command. Chief of the Army Staff, J.J. Singh, later personally apologised for the deaths. This time, the Army felt that the militants precipitated the situation but it expressed regret for an operation that did not adhere to its 'iron fist in velvet glove' policy.


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