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60-hour  Kupwara operation ends
National

60-hour  Kupwara operation ends

One of Jammu and Kashmir’s longest anti-militancy operations in recent times concluded with the killing of two militants, including a Pakistan national, in the frontier Kupwara district on Monday morning.

The 60-hour operation in Babagund area claimed the lives of five security men, including a CRPF Inspector and two policemen. A civilian was also killed in clashes that erupted near the site on Friday.

The police said the operation in the congested village posed 'considerable difficulties' to security forces due to the topography. 'The area where the terrorists were hiding was congested and civilians in adjoining houses had to be evacuated to safer places,' a police spokesperson said.

Mr. Swayam Prakash Pani, IGP, Kashmir, said the material recovered from the scene suggested they were Lashkar-e-Toiba militants. 'While one is Pakistani terrorist Kalimullah, the other is being identified.'

Sources said the holed-up militants were battle-hardened as they kept shifting locations within the cordoned village. After a cordon and search operation was launched late on Thursday, the first contact with the hiding militants was established around 1 am on Friday.

In the first four hours of the gunfight, security forces believed they had eliminated militants hiding in a house, which was razed to the ground. As they were combing the debris on Friday afternoon after a lull of hours, a militant hiding in a nearby area opened fire, killing four security men and injuring six others, including a CRPF Commandant.

An injured CRPF jawan, Head Constable SN Yadav, 48, a resident of Ghazipur, UP, succumbed to the injuries on Sunday morning.

After the initial setback, joint teams of security forces, including Special Forces commandos, painstakingly carried out the operation across a 2-km radius to avert further casualties. Early today, they launched a final assault and killed both holed-up militants.

At least five structures, including three houses, were blown up.