Massive operation to flush out Lashkar militants involved in killing of 3 officers underway in Anantnag forests

Srinagar, Sep 14 (UNI) A day after two decorated Army officers and a senior police officer were killed, a massive operation to flush out militants in the thick forested area of Jammu and Kashmir’s Anantnag district continued on the second day on Thursday.

Police this morning said two militants of Lashkar-e-Taiba, including a local Uzair Khan have been encircled by security personnel Gadole, Kokernag during the ongoing operation.

“ In solemn tribute to the unwavering valor of Col Manpreet Singh,Major Ashish Dhonak & DSP Humayun Bhat who laid down their lives leading from the front during this ongoing operation. Our forces persist with unwavering resolve as they encircle 2 LET terrorists including Uzair Khan,” police said on X, early Thursday.

While the ongoing operation was halted overnight, a tight cordon was marinated in the area to ensure that no militant managed to escape the cordon, officials said, adding the search operation resumed earlier the day and sporadic gunfire continued in the area during the day.

There was no report of any militant causality on Thursday.

A gunfight had erupted during the intervening night of Tuesday and Wednesday after a joint team of police and Army launched an anti militancy operation at Gadole village of Kokernag.

Three officers identified as Colonel Manpreet Singh, Commanding Officer of 19 Rashtriya Rifles, his company commander Major Aashish Dhonchak- also from the 19 RR, and Deputy Superintendent of Police Himayun Muzamil Bhat, who was recently posted in the area were killed on Wednesday.

Sources said some more security men were injured in the initial gunfight and the toll in the operation could rise.

Army on Thursday confirmed the death of its two decorated officers and said the duo were leading from the front.

“#ChinarCorps salutes the valour & sacrifice of Col Manpreet Singh, SM and Maj Aashish Dhonchak, SM of 19 RR Bn who laid down their lives in the line of duty and leading from the front in the highest traditions of the Indian Army, on 13 Sep 23, while fighting terrorists in Operation Garol, Anantnag. Operation still in progress,” Srinagar based Chinar Corps wrote on X.

Both the officers were decorated with Sena Medal for their bravery in anti-militancy operations. While Singh was awarded the medal in 2021 when he was Lt Colonel with the same battalion, Dhonchak was awarded only last month on August 15.

Top security officials said there could be possibility that joint forces might have been lured into the forest area and later ambushed while climbing a hillock. The evacuation of the officers could not take place in time due to the terrain and fierce exchange of fire on Wednesday, sources said.

This is the second time in over three year, that the Army lost the commanding officer during any anti militancy operation.

Col Ashutosh Sharma who was commanding the 21 RR was killed along with a Major, two jawans and a police officer in a gunfight in north Kashmir’s Handwara sub district in May 2020.

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