A massive combing operation launched by the government forces during the first week of June in Panar forests here in north Kashmir’s Bandipora district ended Saturday after 16 days, killing two militants and a trooper.
Over 10 Army men including a Commanding Officer and a Major were injured during the 16-day long combing operation in which two militants engaged with the three units of the Army.
The three units of Army including 14 RR, 31 RR, and Para Commandos were involved in the operation who used hi-tech instruments and thermal imaging to trace the militants gone hiding inside the forests.
Sources said a group of 13-15 militants in the first week of June infiltrated successfully near Bagtore area of Gurez and reached Chandaji area where they stayed for a night and travelled to Panar through Bonkoot and on reaching Rainar they came in contact with the troopers on June 8, who laid an ambush to chase them.
“Among the 15 trapped militants, it is believed that 13 have managed to break the cordon while two engaged three units of the Army during the 16-day long operation,” sources said.
On the second week of June, the government forces extended the operation to other parts of Bandipora forests to track down militants.
The operation was extended to Bhutoo, Vewan, Sarinder, Kudara, Aragam and Ajas forest areas using hi-tech equipment.
According to officials, 10 troopers including Commanding Officer of 14 RR sustained injuries during the operation while most of the militants escaped the cordon later reached Ajas and Hajin area of Bandipora where Army launched brief operation on Saturday.
According to details shared by reliable sources, two troopers were injured on the second day of operation and among them one succumbed in the Srinagar hospital.
On the third day of operation, six troopers including Commanding Officer of 14 RR were injured.
The operation, according to sources, was extended and continued and two more Army men including Major of 22 RR were injured on the 12th day of the operation.
Army on the 13th day claimed that six militants were holed up in the cordon after having captured images of the area and huge forest area was sealed with barbed wires to prevent the escape of militants, sources said.
“The government forces resorted to massive firing to chase the militants during the operation,” witnesses said. “We have first-time witnesses such a massive continuous shelling and firing in the area.”
The Army also claimed killing two more militants but no militant body was retrieved and eventually, they called off the operation after 16 days.
Army officials said they called off the operation due to bad weather across the dense forests.
“Bad weather forced us to call off the operation as militants managed to break cordon in the high-density forest amid bad weather,” he said.
Though Army termed the operation as ‘intermittent rather a consistent one”.
It said they continued the operation from June 9 surrounding almost one dozen villages to track militants stuck in Bandipora.
Earlier in October 2016, the forces launched the longest-ever Army’s search operation to chase a group of militants involved in the killing of tech-savvy y police officer Altaf Ahmed Dar alias Altaf Laptop that yielded no results.