Srinagar, Sep 16: The ongoing encounter at Gadool area of Kokernag hamlet of southern district of Anantnag on Saturday entered fourth straight day prompting the northern army commander Lt General Upendera Divwedi to visit the encounter site to take the stock of the situation amid rains.
Even though the army is using the latest gadgets and weapons to track down the terrorists, there is no concrete evidence whether the terrorists are still hiding in the area or have managed to flee.
An official told the news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO) that intermittent firing was witnessed throughout the day (on Saturday) as the operation was put on a halt given darkness. “In the day, the operation was put on a halt due to rains,” the official said.
He said that para commandos along additional 20 companies of forces have been already sent to the area to search for the terrorists hiding in the dense forests and movement is being monitored closely by helicopters.
“During the joint security operation, we used grenade launchers and shells on suspected terrorist hideout locations using drones, but as of now there is no confirmation about killing of any terrorist as nobody has been spotted,” he said .
The official said that civilians living close to the area have been already evacuated to safer places and drones including herons have been pressed into action to find and neutralize the hiding terrorists.
“There is no confirmation whether any terrorist has been killed so far given the tough terrain and forest area,” the official said.
An official said that northern Army Commander Lt. General Upendera Dwivedi visited the encounter site and reviewed the operational situation of the ongoing operation in the Kokernag forest area.
He was briefed by the ground commanders on the high-intensity operation in which hi-tech equipment is being used for surveillance and the delivery of firepower, along with the high impact of precision fire being used by the forces.
Meanwhile, a senior police officer from Kishtwar said that they have a boundary with Anantnag district and the forces including army and police have been on higher reaches for the last three days.
“We have dominated the area and are in coordination with Kashmir police to ensure as if there will be anyone movement in our area, we are alert to deal with that,” he said. The ongoing encounter at Gadool forests of Kokernag area is turning out to be the biggest one given the involvement of tough terrain and erratic weather conditions.
Pertinently, on Wednesday, during the initial exchange of fire Colonel Manpreet Singh, who was the commanding officer of 19 RR, Major Aashish Dhonchak and DySP Humayun Bhat, the son of former DIG Kashmir Ghulam Muhammad Bhat were killed.
On Thursday, the operation continued in which two soldiers received injuries who were shifted to hospital for treatment. On Friday, the body of a soldier, who had been missing since Wednesday during the gunfight with terrorists, was recovered from the encounter site.
Notably, the Kokernag encounter is the biggest since August 5 this year in South Kashmir when three soldiers of army’s 34 RR were killed in Halan Manzgam forest area of Kulgam district. On March 30, 2020, five security personnel-including a Colonel, a Major and a sub-inspector were killed in an 18-hour long encounter at north Kashmir’s Handwara.
This was the first encounter in the district in around the last four months as in May contact was established with terrorists in Sagam area of Kokernag, however, they later managed to give slip to forces.
Anantnag district where as per police records just one or two local terrorists including Uzair Khan of Nagam area of Kokernag are active has been very calm as compared to other three districts of South Kashmir.
This year so far, 51 militants have been killed in J&K and among them 41 were foreigners and 10 were locals. Officials said that around 20 security forces were killed this year in terrorist attacks and encounters—(KNO)