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IAF intensifies strikes
Capt, 4 others die in hand-to-hand combat
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, June 26 — The Indian Air Force (IAF) carried out further strikes today in the Kargil region of Jammu and Kashmir, specially in the Dras and Batalik sub-sectors, as India lost five more soldiers, including a Captain, from the Signals during the last 24 hours of operations.

Indian ground troops continued to pound the enemy positions with artillery and mortar fire to further soften their positions with the final motive of evicting them. Besides losing five soldiers, who included Capt Aditya Mishra of Corps of Signals, 23 jawans were also injured in the close hand to hand battle with the infiltrators at various positions in the Kargil sector.

While the casualty figure on the Indian side rose to 173 killed, with the killing of four more infiltrators, the casualties among the Pakistan army regulars stood at 379 killed. These included the killing of about 70 all ranks of the 4 Northern Light Infantry which had been operating in the Batalik sub-sector.

According to reports, the IAF continued with its precision guided munition (PGM) strikes at Tiger Hill and some points beyond it in the Dras sub-sector and also at Muntho Dhalo in the Batalik sub-sector. The newly improvised PGMs achieved the required results in the strikes both at Tiger Hill and Muntho Dhalo despite facing surface to air missile attacks from the enemy.

There were reports that despite receiving heavy pounding and suffering a large number of casualties the Pakistani army regulars had again starting building up in the Batalik sub-sector, which led the IAF to turn its attention again in the region. Adequate success was achieved by the air strikes carried out by the Mirage-2000 fighter aircraft with the MiG-29 providing the all important combat air patrol backing to them.

Reports said the strikes at Muntho Dhalo were specifically to wipe out the new build-up in the region by the Pakistani infiltrators. The IAF had carried out some very effective attacks against a large enemy camp at Muntho Dhalo on June 17 last. Over 80 structures were destroyed in the last attacks at the Muntho Dhalo camp, which had been serving as a staging-cum-supply camp for the infiltrators.

While the earlier attacks had reduced the enemy camp to a rubble, reconnaissance missions carried out over the region in the past few days had revealed that the enemy had established another supply camp in the same general area, however the position was a little away from the spot at which the earlier strikes were carried out.

The IAF carried out attacks with the PGMs at this new camp and initial assessment was that the results were promising. However a detailed post-attack analysis was still in progress and there was no assessment as to how many infiltrators had been killed in the attacks.

Reports said the IAF also carried out further strikes in the Dras sub-sector, mainly at the Tiger Hill feature and the region beyond it. Armed with the new weapons delivery techniques, the IAF fighter pilots were achieving greater success despite having a much smaller area to operate in, specially with the ground forces also closing in on the same features.

The IAF spokesman said while reconnaissance and air defence missions were carried out all over the Kargil sector, air attacks were carried out in Dras and Mashkoh valley and Muntho Dhalo. He reiterated that attack techniques developed by the Western Air Command (WAC) had proved to be very effective and the fighters were adopting the tactics to press home the strikes with effectiveness.

"While operational tactics and strategies are under constant review, the guiding principles and parameters laid down by the government remain sacrosanct and all our operations remain restricted to our own side of the LoC".

Asked about the achievements of the IAF which completed one month of air strikes today, he said the results of the operations should be understood in the context of the terrain in which they were taking place.

He gave the example of how 1971 Longewala had been won with four Hunters. But it had taken 21 days to clear the Tololing ridgeline. Air operations in mountain terrain take time to show results, he added.

Meanwhile, the Army spokesman said that as a result of the heavy casualties suffered by the 4 Northern Light Infantry battalion operating in the Batalik sector, the Pakistani army was now readying another battalion to replace it. He said there were reliable inputs that revealed that the morale of the Pakistani army regulars was very low and incentives were now being offered to not only motivate them but to also to look for new recruits to be placed in the Kargil sector.

To a question, Col Singh denied that surface to surface missiles had been used in the operations yesterday.

He said Pakistan resorted to unprovoked artillery and mortar firing in Kanzalwan, Karen, Naugam Uri, Poonch, Krishnaghati, Bhimbergali and Naushera sectors.


No proposal from Pak to end
crisis, says India
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, June 26 — India today said it had not received any proposal from Pakistan on a way out of the Kargil conflict and the only solution to the crisis was for the Pakistan-supported armed intruders to vacate the Indian side of the Line of Control (LoC).

A spokesman of the Ministry of External Affairs said here that India had not received any proposal from Islamabad to end the crisis. To a question on whether the Cabinet Committee on Security had last night discussed an "exit corridor" for the intruders, the spokesman said he was not in a position to comment on this.

The solution to end the Kargil conflict was simple. The intruders have to just get back to the Pakistan side of the LoC, the spokesman said. Vacating intrusion on the Indian side of the LoC was the only solution to the crisis, he stressed.

The spokesman also cited the instance of the Pakistan Government bestowing national honour on a mercenary killed in the Kargil sector as justification for declaring Pakistan a "terrorist state".

He said Pakistan’s use of terrorism as an instrument in conduct of inter-state relations was well known and the distinction between the Pakistani authorities and terrorists were getting blurred.

In this regard the spokesman cited a recent instance where a body of a mercenary, belonging to the Hizbul Mujahideen and found in the Kargil sector, was taken back to his home town in Rawalpindi and buried with full national honour.

A Pakistan national flag was draped on the mercenary’s body and a wreath was laid on his body on behalf of the country’s army chief, the spokesman said quoting reports in the Pakistan media.

The spokesman said it had also come to light that Pakistan Ministers had visited training camps for mercenaries in the border area proving the Pakistan Government’s support, abetment and encouragement to terrorists.

The national honour bestowed on the mercenary also indicated that there was synergy in the activities of the Pakistan army and the mercenaries.

The merging of the identity of the Pakistan army and the terrorists might not have any implications in the present context but it would definitely have long-term ramifications.

The spokesman’s decision to highlight the terrorist links of the Pakistan Government came a few hours before US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, Gibson Lanpher was scheduled to arrive in New Delhi on his way back from Islamabad.

The spokesman said Mr Lanpher would be briefing the Indian side on the talks the US Commander-in-Chief of the Central Command, Gen Anthony Zinni, had with the Pakistani authorities.

General Zinni and Mr Lanpher had carried a personal message from US President Bill Clinton stating that Islamabad withdraw armed intruders from the Indian side of the LoC.

Mr Lanpher is basically coming on a briefing mission and his talks with the Indian side would be within this parameter, the spokesman added.


No unilateral pullout: Pak Gen

KARACHI, June 26 (AP) — After weeks of denying its ability to withdraw armed intruders from the Kargil area, Pakistan’s Army Chief, Gen Pervez Musharraf, today said there would be no "unilateral withdrawal’’ from Kargil.

The apparent turnaround came at a news briefing in the southern port city of Karachi when General Musharraf was asked whether Pakistan would withdraw its forces from Kargil.

"It is too early to say (but) it’s a government decision. It is the Prime Minister’s decision. We will not withdraw unilaterally.’’

However, he did not specify the location of the Pakistani forces.

The Pakistan army earlier this month said its soldiers moved from 15,000 ft to 18,000 ft to occupy previously unoccupied posts opposite Kashmir’s Kargil and Dras area. However, the army insisted these posts were located on the Pakistani side of the Line of Control (LoC).

Until now, Pakistan had said its soldiers had not crossed the 1972 ceasefire line, which is known as the LoC that divides Kashmir between India and Pakistan.

General Musharraf’s statement follow meetings on Thursday and Friday with US Gen Anthony Zinni who was carrying a message from US President Bill Clinton demanding that Pakistan should withdraw armed intruders from Kashmir.

General Zinni also met Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif yesterday but a Foreign Ministry statement indicated the meeting ended in a stalemate with Pakistan pressing for a final settlement to the Kashmir problem.

General Musharraf also told reporters that efforts were being made for a meeting between Mr Sharif and Mr Clinton to be held "soon’’. However, the Army Chief did not say when or where the meeting would be held.

"Obviously, we do not want to escalate the situation and I am sure that India does not want to escalate,’’ he said. "Therefore, we want to reach a solution that is mutually acceptable to us and to India also.’’

He said there were two issues: "There is the tactical military issue of Kargil and Dras and the political dimension of Kashmir and both have to be tackled together.’’

Also today the army said that Pakistan repulsed an Indian offensive in the Kashmir region killing 15 Indian soldiers and wounding several more.

The Indian counter-offensive was launched yesterday in the Batalik sector.

According to the Pakistan army statement, 150 Indian troops participated in the assault, but were repulsed by Pakistani gunners. "Ten to 12 Indians were killed and many others suffered injuries,’’ it said.

Pakistan’s army spokesman Brig. Rashid Quereshi said Indian soldiers had breached the LoC at least 11 times

"Pakistan is trying to find a solution to the Kashmir problem which is agreeable to Islamabad, the USA and also to India,’’ General Musharraf said.

There were reports that both Pakistan and India had stepped up their defences along their territories.

Pakistan has warned the USA that its "narrow viewpoint’’ on the Kashmir problem emboldens India to talk of war.

Kashmiri militants have held rallies this week throughout Pakistan warning Mr Sharif against "trading on the blood of Mujahideen martyrs.’’

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