Saturday, March 9, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

5 ultras shot dead near Vaishno Devi
Tribune News Service And Agencies

Jammu, March 8
The security forces foiled a major plan of militants to sneak into the sensitive Katra mountain belt by killing five rebels today.

State government functionaries said the militants had taken shelter in an abandoned mountain cave, over 1 km away from the ancient shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi in the Katra forest belt.

On receipt of information, columns of the Army, paramilitary forces and the police launched search operations. As the security forces neared the hideout, they came under heavy fire in which one policeman was inured.

The security forces retaliated and the encounter lasted for about five hours in which shrubs and dry foliage around the abandoned cave caught fire. The security forces recovered all five bodies of the militants.

According to the police, the incident did not affect the pilgrimage. More then 11,000 pilgrims visited the holy shrine. Later, it was established that the five militants belonged to Lashkar-e-Toiba.

Meanwhile, a report from Srinagar said elsewhere in the state four militants, including two from the Hizbul Mujahideen, and three persons were killed and four family members of a ruling National Conference leader were injured in Jammu and Kashmir overnight.

An official spokesman said the special operation group of the Jammu and Kashmir police and the Army, in a joint operation at Kandiwari in south Kashmir, killed two Hizbul Mujabideen militants early this morning.

Two AK rifles were recovered from the slain militants identified as Tariq Ahmad Tantray and Abdul Jabbar.

In another incident, a militant was killed by the security forces at Khanu Handwara village in north Kashmir. Another militant was killed by the security forces at Amaligalla in Rajouri district this morning. He said a boy was killed and four others were injured when a grenade, they were apparently playing with, exploded at Kool Gurmal village in Doda district last evening.

Senior Jamaat-e-Islami leader Ayaz Akbar was arrested today from the Parimpora locality of the city, official sources said.

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