Friday, October 19, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Heavy firing by Pak troops
Bunkers hit as India returns fire
Tribune News Service and UNI

An alert soldier keeps close vigil on the LOC in Kashmir. — Photo Amin war

Jammu, October 18
Pakistani troops again resorted to heavy firing on Indian border villages in the Chicken Neck area in the Chhamb-Jurian sector and on this side of the international border near Kanachak last night and today.

Sources said it was for the first time that the Pakistan troops fired from automatic grenade launchers in the Chicken Neck area. They also fired from heavy calibre weapons and targeted civilian areas. Panic gripped the belt and people fled villages. However, they returned when Indian troops retaliated with heavy firing to silence Pakistan guns.

In the Kanachak area, Pakistani soldiers fired several grenades through automatic grenade launchers which hit some fencing poles and caused deep craters. There was no casualty on the Indian side.

However, some Pakistani bunkers were hit in the Indian retaliatory firing.

Defence Ministry sources said: “Our troops fire only when the other side opens fire.” They said there was nothing alarming about it as the Pakistani troops had been indulging in intermittent pounding of border villages and trying to target “our bunkers and posts.”

An Indian bunker was hit by a rifle grenade but no damage was caused.

The sources said: “Our troops have clear instructions to open fire whenever they spot any intrusion or infiltration from across the border or when the Pakistani troops resort to firing. We will hit back if we are fired at,” the sources said.

State government functionaries said the Pakistani firing on the border villages in the Akhnoor Sector, R.S. Pora, Poonch and Rajouri areas during the past three days indicated that Islamabad had not paid heed to the advice of US Secretary of State, Colin Powell that Pakistan should not foment tension on the border.

Meanwhile, in the ongoing “hot chase” against militants, eight militants were killed in two separate encounters in Doda and Poonch districts today.

According to the police, a joint operation was launched on specific information to flush out the militants from a hideout in the Surankot area of Poonch. As the security forces neared the hideout they came under heavy firing. The forces retaliated in which five militants were killed. Large quantities of arms and explosives were recovered from the slain militants.

In the Dandhov area of Doda district, the security forces and a group of militants fought a fierce battle for over four hours in which three militants were killed. In the encounter, one JCO and two special police officers were killed.

Additional forces have been rushed to the area and a manhunt launched.

A report from Srinagar said troops guarding the northern sector foiled a major infiltration bid when they eliminated six heavily-armed militants near a forward post at Tootmar Gali, even as the security forces announced a maximum alert along the borders with Pakistan.

Official sources said the security forces all along the border had been put on maximum alert as Pakistan would try to send in more militants and arms and ammunition into the valley before the infiltration routes were closed due to snow.

Though the area experienced snow recently, the routes were still open, they said.

A spokesperson said a joint search party of the Army and the Special Operation Group of the Jammu and Kashmir police was fired upon by the militants at Dubjen Shopian in Pulwama district of south Kashmir in the wee hours today.

The forces immediately sealed the area and opened retaliatory fire, killing four Al-Badr militants. Two Army jawans also lost their lives, he said. Four AK rifles, eight rocket-propelled grenades, two grenades, two under-barrel grenade launchers and two wireless sets were recovered from the slain militants.

He said two more militants, including a self-styled company commander of the Hizb-ul Mujahideen were shot at Kunan Baba Bandipora in Baramula district while another was killed at Wahab Sahib Khrew last night. Three AK rifles, six magazines, 10 grenades and one pouch were seized.

The SOG shot Hizb-ul militant Mohammad Ashraf Dar when he was trying to lob a grenade on its vehicle at Dudarhama today. However, residents of the area who took to the streets, alleged that he was killed in custody.

The militants kidnapped and later killed Ghulam Mir at Achabal in Anantnag district early this morning.

In a joint operation, the SOG and the CRPF today arrested a militant of the Al-Badr, Abdul Rashid Dar, who was carrying five explosive rods, two detonators and a remote control device.

Jammu and Kashmir Works Minister Ali Mohammad Sagar had a narrow escape when the militants fired at least two rifle grenades this afternoon towards the area where he was addressing a public meeting at Delina, about 80 km from here, in Baramula district.Back


Pak DGMO rings up Indian counterpart
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 18
Pakistan’s Director-General of Military Operations (DGMO) telephoned his Indian counterpart last evening to complain against the alleged concentration of Indian troops along the Line of Control.

India’s DGMO, Lt-Gen Sarvjit Singh Chahal, categorically told his Pakistani counterpart that India did not want to add to the problems of Pakistan and said India was not interested in exploiting the Afghanistan situation to its advantage.

This was told to reporters at today’s joint briefing of the Ministries of External Affairs and Defence. Wednesday’s telephonic conversation between the two countries’ DGMOs assumes significance as they routinely talk to each other every Tuesday which they did last Tuesday as well.

Brigadier Jaspal Singh of the Defence Ministry rejected Pakistan’s allegation that India was escalating tension along the LoC and described Inter Services Public Relations spokesman Maj-Gen Rashid Qureshi’s statement on the LoC situation as "intemperate and uncalled for".

Brig Jaspal Singh categorically stated neither fresh Indian troops were recalled nor leave of Army personnel cancelled following the incidents of military flare-up in Akhnoor and Mendar sectors in J & K.

"There was local readjustment and routine turnover of formations and units," Brig Singh said.Back

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