Terrorists planning to target Amarnath pilgrims in south Kashmir: Army

Brigadier VS Thakur

Abid Bashir

Srinagar (NVI): Inputs continue to pour in that terrorists are planning to carry out a strike on Amarnath pilgrims on the National Highway (NH) stretch in south Kashmir, as the annual pilgrimage is scheduled to commence on July 21, a top Army officer said today.

Addressing a press conference at Kulgam Army Base, Sector commander of Army’s 9 RR regiment, Brigadier V S Thakur, said, “This stretch is a bit sensitive but we are all prepared to scuttle the terrorist designs and to ensure smooth conduct of the pilgrimage that is commencing from July 21.”

Thakur further added that the number of active terrorists in south Kashmir is around 100 including 25 to 30 foreign militants. “There are also reports of few individuals who are missing and since Pakistan continues to push in terrorists into this side, you can add a bit to the number. So it would be slightly more than 100,” he added.

Speaking about the Nagnad operation in south Kashmir’s Kulgam district today in which three terrorists were killed including a top Jaish-e-Mohammed commander, the Army officer said that the operation was full of challenges. After getting the information about the presence of two to three terrorists in village Nagnad in Kulgam from Deputy Inspector General of Police, south Kashmir, a siege was laid at around 4.30 am in the morning.

“There was a single road access to the house where terrorists were hiding and the closest base was 10 to 12 kms away,” he said, adding the second challenge was that there were civilians in the house where the terrorists had taken refuge.

“Our troops showed resilience and didn’t even resort to speculative fire at the target house,” he added.

Brigadier Thakur said that an appeal was made to the civilians to evacuate the house. “Two terrorists started firing indiscriminately at the forces with small arms during evacuation of civilians and also lobbed grenades with an Under Barrel Grenade Launcher (UBGL),” he said. Two terrorists were killed without causing any harm to the civilians or the house they were hiding in, he added.

The army officer also said that when civilians were coming out of the house, one remaining terrorist who was wearing a pheran (traditional Kashmiri gown used in winters) with a weapon inside, tried to move out with the civilians.

“However, alert troops physically stopped him and when he tried to use his weapon, he and the soldier got into a fight, who successfully killed the terrorist,” the Brigadier said.

He said a huge quantity of arms and ammunition was recovered from the three slain terrorists which include a US-made M-4 Carbine, one Ak-47, five magazines, a few grenades and a UBGL.

-CHK/ARK