United News of India
Srinagar, May 3: A Commanding Officer, Major, two soldiers a Jammu and Kashmir police officer and two Lashkar-e-Toiba(LeT) militants were killed in an encounter which ensued during a Cordon and Search Operation at Handwara in the frontier district of Kupwara.
With this, 20 security force personnel and 35 militants have been killed in Kashmir since lockdown commenced on March 15.
A Defence Ministry spokesperson Colonel Rajesh Kalia told UNI that based on the intelligence input that militants have taken the civilian inmates of a house hostage at Chanjmullah in Handwara on Saturday evening, a joint operation was launched by Rashtriya Rifles (RR), Special Operations Group (SOG) of J&K police, and CRPF at Chanjmullah in Handwara on Saturday evening.
He said a team comprising of five Army and a Jammu and Kashmir Police personnel entered the target area occupied by the militants to evacuate the civilians. ‘As the hostages were being rescued, the team came under heavy firing, which was effectively retaliated by security force personnel,’ he said.
He said the team of Army and J&K Police successfully extricated the civilians.
However, he said the team of five security forces personnel comprising two Army officers, two Army soldiers and one J&K Police Sub Inspector (SI) were slain during the operation, he said, adding two militants were also killed in the exchange of fire. One of the slain militant is identified as Hyder a top commander of LeT.
Official sources said that the slain personnel were identified as Colonel Ashutosh Sharma, Major Anuj Sood, Naik Rajesh, Lance Naik Dinesh, all from 21 Rashtriya Rifles, and SI Shakeel Qazi.
Sources said Colonel Ashutosh was always leading his forces from the front. The 21 RR had lost a Colonel and other officer in a landmine blast in Handwara in 2000.