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NEW DELHI : Five commandos belonging to an elite unit of the Indian Army were killed over the weekend along the Line of Control in Kashmir after an intense close-quarter fight with an equal number of terrorists who had infiltrated into India, the Indian Army said on Monday.

The encounter took place in the Keran sector on Sunday with all five terrorists killed.

The bodies of the commandos and the terrorists were found barely two to three metres from each other, an Indian Army officer said.

In a statement on Monday, the army said all five terrorists were killed in “an intense hand-to-hand battle."

“The Indian Army launched a daring operation at the LoC (Line of Control) and engaged Pakistani-supported infiltrators in a close-quarter battle in heavy snow, neutralising the entire infiltrating batch of five. Four soldiers under the command of a junior commissioned officer from one of the most professional Para SF (Special Forces) units were heli-dropped near the LoC after information on the infiltrators was received," the statement said.

While three of the commandos died during the encounter two others died as they were being airlifted to a military hospital.

The operation to intercept the infiltrators began on 1 April when patrolling troops reported footprints near the LoC fence that was covered under snow, the officer cited above said.

The army then quickly deployed search teams but extremely difficult terrain and inclement weather prevented any engagement. That’s when the commandos from 4 Para (SF) were called in to take over the operation, he said.

Based on visuals from unmanned aerial vehicles, the commandos were ferried to the nearest battalion headquarters by air as the location was cut off due to heavy snow in the area.

In the early hours of Sunday, the five commandos began following footmarks in the snow and several hours later reached a water channel. The commandos split up into two groups with one of them not realizing that they were on a cornice.

“The complete snow block collapsed taking the squad leader and the two scouts down all the way to the channel where the terrorists were sitting... It led to a close-quarter battle at virtually point blank range," the officer said.

The two commandos in the second group rushed to provide support to their colleagues who were locked in an intense close-quarter fight with the terrorists. In the ensuing engagement, the five commandos were successful in killing all the infiltrators, the officer added.

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