Anantnag, Sep 15: The ensuing encounter at Gadool forest area of Kokernag hamlet in Southern district of Anatnag district Friday entered into the third straight day with security forces using grenades and RPGs in a bid to track down the terrorists. The army has already stated that it has used the latest machinery including choppers, drones, and quad copters to locate the hiding terrorists.
An official said that intermittent firing remained on throughout the day as the operation was put on a halt given darkness this evening.
He said that the forces fired grenades, rocket propelled grenades, shells and bullets towards the suspected spots suggested by the drones. The official that all new generation weapons and devices are being used to locate hiding terrorists.
The official said that civilians living close to the area have been already evacuated to safer places and drones including herons have been pressed into action to find and neutralize the hiding terrorists.
“There is no confirmation whether any terrorist has been killed so far given the tough terrain and forest area,” the official said. “Given dark, high beam lights have been installed and all the layers of cordon have been tightened to ensure terrorists don’t flee.”
Pertinently on Wednesday, during the initial exchange of fire Colonel Manpreet Singh, who was the commanding officer of 19 RR, Major Aashish Dhonchak and DySP Humayun Bhat, the son of former DIG Kashmir Ghulam Muhammad Bhat were killed.
On Thursday, the operation continued in which two soldiers received injuries who were shifted to hospital for treatment.
Notably, the Kokernag encounter is the biggest since August 5 this year in South Kashmir when three soldiers of army’s 34 RR were killed in Halan Manzgam forest area of Kulgam district. On March 30, 2020, five security personnel-including a Colonel, a Major and a sub-inspector were killed in an 18-hour long encounter at north Kashmir’s Handwara.
This was the first encounter in the district in around last four months as in May contact was established with terrorists in Sagam area of Kokernag, however, they later managed to give slip to forces.
Anantnag district where as per police records just one or two local terrorists including Uzair Khan of Nagam area of Kokernag are active has been very calm as compared to other three districts of south Kashmir.
This year so far, 48 militants have been killed in J&K and among them 38 were foreigners and 10 were locals. Officials said that around 20 security forces were killed this year in terrorist attacks and encounters.
A senior official said that after receiving the information about presence of terrorists in Gadool area, many teams were formed and one of them teams led by a Colonel, Major and the DySP came under heavy fire when they were trying to locate the hide out. “They survived after being hit by bullets but evacuation was delayed due to intense firing,” he said.
The officials said that terrain is very difficult and the operation involves high risk. “Either we had to go back or we had to continue the operation with all precautions. We choose second option. We believe terrorists are still hiding in their hideout. All escape routes have been blocked,” he said.