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Bandipora encounter ends

Written by: Staff
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Srinagar, July 3 : The gun-battle between militants and security forces at Bandipora in north Kashmir has so far left two militants and a junior army officer dead and three soldiers wounded, a defence ministry spokesman said.

There has been no firing from militants after a final assault was launched by troops this morning, he said adding that the operation was suspended last night because of darkness.

Troops launched an all out offensive against the militants this morning who were holed up in the house since yesterday when a search party of 14 Rashtriya Rifles (RR) was attacked by the militants at Gamaru in Bandipora area at 1715 hrs.

''We are searching the area and so far bodies of two militants have been recovered by the troops,'' he said.

He said there were intelligence reports that three to four militants were present in the area when it was sealed by the troops.

He said the operation is almost over as there is no firing from militant side. ''We want to make sure that there is no explosive left by the militants in the damaged houses,'' he added.

''The area will be declared safe once the search operation is over,'' he said.

The encounter ensued after troops conducted search opertion following a tip off that some militants were hiding there.

He confirmed that an army subedar Jagdish Chand laid down his life and three other soldiers were wounded in the encounter.

The local residents alleged that troops fired mortars damaging about half a dozen houses in the encounter.

The encounter in the area came after Director General of Jammu and Kashmir Police announced a reward of Rs five lakh on Salahudin alias Bilal alias Haider, a Pakistani militant of the banned Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) outfit.

Salahuddin is the LeT chief operational commander in Jammu and Kashmir and at present believed to be hiding at Sumblar in Bandipora area. An exceptionally tall man at 6.5 ft, he looks after the whole LeT network in Jammu and Kashmir and has masterminded most of the suicide attacks in the Valley.

However, this was the second major encounter in as many days in Bandipora area. On July one 15 RR Lt Colonel V R Chauhan, two militants and a civilian were killed in more than five-hour-long fierce gunfight at Nowpora market in Bandipora area on June 30. A BSF personnel was also wounded in the encounter.

UNI

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