J&K: Colonel, Major among 5 security personnel killed in encounter
A Colonel-rank officer and a Major were among the five security personnel who were killed in an encounter with militants at Handwara in Kashmir, officials said on Sunday. Two militants were also killed in the gun battle which broke out at the Chanjmulla area of Handwara, part of north Kashmir's Kupwara district, on Saturday, they said.
"Sad to inform that five brave personnel including Colonel Ashutosh Sharma, Major Anuj Sood and sub-inspector of JKP Shakeel Qazi were martyred in the line of duty," Director General of Police Dilbagh Singh told news agency PTI.
The Army personnel were leading a team to rescue civilians who were taken hostage by the militants, the officials said. In the process, all the five security men, including two Army soldiers and one J&K police sub-inspector lost their lives, they added.
Taking to Twitter, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh expressed condolences to the families of the deceased soldiers and personnel. "I offer my tributes to the soldiers and security personnel who fell in action. My heart goes out to the families who lost their loved ones today. India stands shoulder to shoulder with the families of these brave martyrs," he said.
"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 added.
A senior police officer had earlier told The Sunday Express that the militants were found hiding in a cowshed.
Besides Colonel Ashutosh Sharma and Major Anuj Sood, the other Army soldiers killed in the encounter were identified as Naik Rajesh and Lance Naik Dinesh.
Col Sharma was the Commanding Officer of the 21 Rashtriya Rifles and had been decorated for gallantry twice in Kashmir.
A wreath-laying ceremony would be held in Srinagar after which Col Sharma's body would be flown to Bulandshahr in Uttar Pradesh and that of Major Sood to Chandigarh, the officials said.
The Army had on Saturday announced that two of the three Armymen injured in cross-border shelling in Uri on Friday had succumbed to their injuries.
In another incident, two militants were killed in a gunbattle in Dangerpora area of South Kashmir's Pulwama Saturday.
The incident led to stone-pelting by local residents.
CRPF officers said that while the troops were leaving, a grenade was lobbed at them, leaving one personnel with minor injuries.
(INputs and image from theindianexpress.com)