New Delhi: The Anantnag encounter, which has claimed the lives of three officers, including the commanding officer of the Army’s counter terrorist unit, 19 Rashtriya Rifles, and a young deputy superintendent (DySP) of Jammu and Kashmir Police, was an intelligence-based operation that went haywire, ThePrint has learnt.
Two terrorists belonging to Pakistan-backed terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), carried out an ambush-style attack, sources in the defence and security establishment told ThePrint.
Those killed in the operation were gallantry awardees Colonel Manpreet Singh, his company commander Major Ashish Dhonak and DySp Humayun Bhat.
Incidentally, the DySP is the son of a retired inspector general of the Jammu and Kashmir Police.
The Srinagar-based Chinar Corps announced on the casualties on social media platform X (previously Twitter) Thursday, saying it “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”.
Sources in the defence and security establishment told ThePrint that there are several who have been injured, and it is feared that casualties could go up.
According to the sources, the operation, which began Tuesday evening, continues, and two ‘terrorists’, including Uzair Khan, a self-styled LeT commander, are being tracked down.
The Resistance Front, a proxy of the LeT, has claimed responsibility for the killings.
However, sources said that this was an intelligence-based operation, which went sideways as the terrorists ambushed the security forces while climbing up a hillock in the thick jungles of the Kokernag area in search of a hideout.
It was not immediately clear which agency had developed the intelligence, but this was a joint operation, sources added.
‘Operation launched to bust hideout’
The intelligence had said that the terrorists had a hideout in the forest, and the operation was launched to bust it, sources said.
They said that the joint team of the security forces lost the element of surprise since the terrorists spotted them and opened a volley of fire from assault rifles as the forces neared a spot.
Colonel Singh, who was in the front, was hit by the bullets along with the Major and the DySP. According to sources, more soldiers were hit, but the commanding officer was critically injured.
The evacuation could not take place in time because there was utter chaos, and the helicopters could not land because of the ongoing gun fight, the sources said, adding that the terrorists had opened fire on the helicopter as well.
More security forces have been rushed to the area and the effort now is to prevent the two terrorists from escaping the area, ThePrint has learnt.
The Northern Command has seen an uptick in casualties in the recent past. Wednesday’s loss of three officers came a day after a jawan and canine soldier were killed in Rajouri.
It is seen as a setback to the security forces and the intelligence agencies, which have failed to identify and target a group of terrorists who are operating freely in the Poonch Rajouri area, as reported by ThePrint
Earlier last month, another Pakistan-backed terror group of the Jaish-e-Mohammad had carried out an ambush on soldiers in Kulgam and later released a video of the same.
(Edited by Richa Mishra)
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