Saturday, January 5, 2002, Chandigarh, India 


M A I N   N E W S

11 Pak soldiers killed
Lone escapes bid on life
Tribune News Service And UNI

Indian soldiers check mortar shells in the Chamb sector on the India-Pakistan border, 65 km west of Jammu, on Friday. — Reuters photo

Jammu, January 4
At least 11 Pakistani soldiers were killed while several others were wounded when Indian troops retaliated to silence Pakistani guns across the Poonch, Nowshehra and Hiranagar areas in Jammu sector.

Defence Ministry sources said several Pakistani bunkers were destroyed in the Indian retaliatory fire. The sources said after a lull of two days the Pakistani troops resorted to heavy mortar shelling in the Nowshehra and Poonch areas in which an Indian soldier was killed and five others were wounded.

According to the sources, the Pakistani troops fired 100 mortar shells from across Nowshehra and Poonch. Several houses in Saltori and Jhalas villages in Poonch and in the Nowshehra area of Rajouri sectors, besides four Indian bunkers, were partially damaged.

The Indian troops retaliated with mortar guns and heavy-calibre weapons and smashed several Pakistani bunkers resulting in the death of at least 11 Pakistani soldiers across Nowshehra and Poonch. The Pakistani troops also opened fire on Indian posts and villages in the Hiranagar area of Kathua district.

The sources said at least half a dozen houses on this side of Poonch and Nowshehra were damaged in the Pakistani shelling and firing, resulting in fresh exodus from the border areas.

Police sources said Salotri and its adjoining villages besides scores of hamlets in Rajouri, Poonch and Akhnoor sectors, wore a deserted look since the past one week. The roar of the Pakistani guns and mortar shell explosions drove the border villagers to safer places.

The Defence Ministry sources said, “Our troops continue to be on a high alert with instructions to retaliate suitably in case of any firing and shelling from across the border.” They said during the past 24 hours the intensity of the Pakistani firing and shelling has further accentuated possibly to cast a shadow on the SAARC meeting in Kathmandu. The Pakistan side wanted to convey to the SAARC countries that the turmoil on the border required an immediate settlement of the Kashmir issue through negotiations

Meanwhile, a report from Srinagar said senior Hurriyat leader Abdul Gani Lone and his family members escaped unhurt when gunmen attacked their house with automatic weapons at Rawalpora here late last night, the third such attack on the separatist leader during the past two months.

Elsewhere in Jammu and Kashmir, 14 militants were among 17 persons killed while security forces seized some arms and ammunition during the past 24 hours.

Gunmen attacked Mr Lone’s Rawalpora house, an executive member of the All-Party Hurriyat Conference, from the rear side, an official spokesman said.

The guards posted at his residence also retaliated and the exchange of fire continued for some time, he said. Mr Lone and all other family members were inside the house when the incident took place, he said.

However, no one was hurt, he added. The spokesman said the security forces killed three militants in an encounter at Ratnather village in south Kashmir during a search operation last evening.

Three other militants were gunned down by troops at Kathsun in north Kashmir.

Ultras abducted and later killed Sonaullah Khan at Badran Magam while another person was killed at Lalpora in the frontier district of Kupwara last night.

The security forces killed a militant each at Muluth Darhal and the Kichun forest in Bandipora today.

A report from Jammu said, the security forces today eliminated six militants, including the district commander of the Lashkar-i-Toiba, in three separate encounters in the Jammu region.

According to a Defence Ministry spokesman, three militants were killed in Rajouri and one among them was the district commander of the LeT, two were killed at Keeri village in Poonch and one in Kishtwar.

In a surprise checking the security forces seized 60 kg of RDX from a bus. The explosive material was being smuggled into Doda district. 

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