Colonel, major, 5 others killed in Handwara terrorist attack2 min read . Updated: 03 May 2020, 10:49 PM IST
- Prime Minister Narendra Modi and defence minister Rajnath Singh paid tributes to the martyrs. Singh described the deaths as 'deeply disturbing and painful'
- The 12-hour operation, which took place at Handwara in Kupwara district, also resulted in the killing of two terrorists
In one of the deadliest operations for the security forces in the Valley, an Indian army colonel, a major and two soldiers, along with a Jammu and Kashmir Police sub-inspector, were killed in a counter-terrorist operation in Kashmir late on Saturday.
The 12-hour operation, which took place at Handwara in Kupwara district, also resulted in the killing of two terrorists, the Indian Army said in a statement.
News agency ANI cited Vijay Kumar, inspector general of police, Jammu and Kashmir, as saying that a top Lashkar-e Taiba terrorist, identified as Haider, a Pakistani national, was killed in the operation.
Following intelligence inputs that terrorists had taken civilians hostage in a house in Handwara’s Changimulla, a joint team comprising five army personnel and a J&K Police officer reached the area and managed to rescue the civilians. The security team, however, came under heavy fire and in the ensuing fire fight, all were killed, besides the two terrorists, the statement said.
The army colonel killed in the operation was the commanding officer of the Rashtriya Rifles’ 21st Battalion and his death is seen as a blow to the morale of the forces. He was a decorated officer, having been recognized at least twice for bravery in counter-terrorism operations.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and defence minister Rajnath Singh paid tributes to the martyrs. Singh described the deaths as “deeply disturbing and painful". “The loss of our soldiers and security personnel in Handwara (J&K) is deeply disturbing and painful. They showed exemplary courage in their fight against the terrorists and made supreme sacrifice while serving the country. We will never forget their bravery and sacrifice," he said.
In a gesture of solidarity, the Indian Air Force in a Twitter post also honoured the dead personnel. “Indian Air Force pays tribute to the brave security personnel of the Indian Army and Jammu and Kashmir Police, who were martyred in action on 2 May in J&K. We Salute the bravehearts of India."
The deaths come about a month after five commandos belonging to an elite unit were killed along the Line of Control in Kashmir’s Keran sector during a close-quarter battle with an equal number of terrorists who were trying to infiltrate into India. The five terrorists were also killed.
Indian Army chief Manoj Mukund Naravane on a visit to Kashmir last month after the Keran encounter had slammed Pakistan for “exporting terror" at a time when the world was struggling to control the spread of the novel coronavirus. The visit had come amid increasing violations of a 2003 ceasefire pact between the two countries.