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6 soldiers killed in Siachen avalanche
One soldier missing Rescue ops continue
Tribune News Service & PTI

Srinagar, December 16
Six soldiers belonging to the 1st Assam Regiment were killed while one went missing after an avalanche swept through the southern part of Siachen glacier, close to the Line of Control with Pakistan, Army officials said.

The avalanche hit the Hanief sub-sector of Siachen glacier around 6.15 am today, Army spokesman Lt Col JS Brar told The Tribune. It hit a post located deep in the Karakoram mountain range where Indian and Pakistani soldiers guard the 70-km swath of snow at an altitude of around 19,000 feet, another Army official said.

The bodies of those killed had been retrieved. Brar said the operation to trace the missing soldier would be resumed tomorrow after it was called off during the day due to bad weather. "Avalanche rescue teams are already deployed at the site. The moment, the weather clears up, we will launch the rescue operation again," he added.

“The incident occurred during the inter-post movement of the soldiers,” officials said.

In February this year, eight soldiers were killed when two massive avalanches hit their posts in the Sonamarg area of central Kashmir and in the Gurez area of north Kashmir. A number of forward posts of the Army in north Kashmir and the Ladakh region fall in avalanche-prone areas.

An avalanche warning was issued in mountainous parts of the Kashmir region after heavy snowfall last week.

Siachen, described as the world’s highest battlefield, has been a witness to regular skirmishes between the armies of the two countries since 1984 when the Indian Army launched a pre-emptive military operation “Meghdooth” to secure control of heights dominating the glacier in the Ladakh region. A ceasefire was announced along the LoC in 2003 and is still effective.

Siachen is an avalanche-prone area and India has lost more people to weather and terrain than to enemy bullets here. However, it has brought down such casualties to a large extent by ensuring proper adaptation of the personnel to the conditions and through extensive scientific research by DRDO to improve living conditions of jawans there.

Pakistan lost 130 soldiers in an avalanche in the area earlier this year. India and Pakistan, which have held several rounds of talks to resolve the Siachen issue, were close to an agreement a few years back on demilitarising the region, but the accord failed to see the light of the day as Pakistan refused to authenticate its military position.

Pakistan Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani had recently said that India had hardened its position on the Siachen issue as compared to the 1989 stance it had adopted.

Army Chief Gen Bikram Singh has made it clear that the Indian military would not like to move out of the “strategically important” icy heights for which a “lot of blood has been shed”. He said the Army had conveyed its views to the government which had to take a final decision in that regard.





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