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June 6, 1999
Air attacks resume as casualties mount
Air force planes resumed attacks on Sunday to help troops flush out Pakistan-supported infiltrators in the snowy heights of the Kargil sector as casualties on the Indian side rose to 59 killed, 217 wounded and 14 missing.
Brigadier Mohan Bhandari, deputy director of military operations, said the operations were continuing at a steady pace and the intruders were being hit by the air strikes and artillery and mortar fire.
He said the bodies of three Pakistan army regulars were handed over to Pakistan by an Indian army officer with due military honours at a post in the Kargil sector.
''It is a tall story,'' Brigadier Bhandari said when told that Pakistan claimed that the three men were ambushed in Pakistan territory and then killed by Indian troops.
He said the infiltrators, who were well trained and indoctrinated, were putting up stiff resistance and fighting was continuing in the Batalik, Drass and Mushkoh sub sectors.
Asked if a big assault was being planned by the Indian troops in Kargil which could lead to huge casualties, an official spokesman said it would not be right to speculate on what kind of operations were taking place.
Air attacks, which were not carried out on Saturday as the army plans did not envisage aerial strikes, resumed today in the Batalik and Drass sub sectors with success, said Group Captain K Rajaram, joint director of operations.
Reports said Indian artillery had been successful in dislodging the intruders from a key mountain post. Brigadier Bhandari said the supply lines of the intruders had been blocked at quite a few places and attempts were continuing to cut off the still remaining maintenance routes.
''My guess is as good as yours,'' he said when asked how much time it would take for the troops to push back the intruders beyond the Line of Control.
He said the mountainous terrain was so difficult that even pushing back the armed intruders a few yards every day mattered a lot. Brigadier Bhandari, at a previous briefing, had disclosed that the intruders, who had infiltrated up to seven kilometres into Indian territory, had been pushed back about three and a half kms at some places. No fresh incursions have been reported.
The Kargil sector has been off limits for journalists for the past two days. At today's briefing, Brigadier Bhandari said it had now been decided to send mediapersons, duly escorted by the military, in an organised manner. This was in the interest of the safety of journalists and the security of the operations, he added.
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