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|May 17, 1999||
Pak 'infiltrators' to be 'flushed out' of Kargil by tomorrow
Union Defence Minister George Fernandes has said Pakistani infiltrators in the Kargil sector of Jammu and Kashmir would be 'flushed out' within 48 hours.
Addressing the media yesterday, Fernandes said Pakistani infiltrators were entering the Indian territory now as snow had melted in the Kargil and Drass sectors.
Fernandes' statement assumes significance in the wake of the Indian counter-offensive against the Pakistani infiltrators in these sectors. The week-long offensive has so far claimed 30 lives including 15 militants.
More troops have been rushed to Kargil from Srinagar and Leh to meet the challenge of about a dozen heavily armed militant groups.
Shelling by the Pakistani troops in these sectors continued for the 10th day today. A majority of the residents have already fled to safer places.
Pakistan has also shelled several Indian positions in the Keran sector in north Kashmir. Indian troops also fired back on Saturday but there were no reports of any casualties or damage to property.
Radio Kashmir, in its news bulletin on Sunday afternoon, said the offensive against the infiltrators in the Kargil and Drass sectors was still on.
The bulletin, quoting official sources, further said all militants groups have been surrounded by the troops.
It said that the infiltrators were now running out of arms and ammunition and ration and several of them were wounded.
The bulletin quoted officials as saying that traffic on the 434-kilometre-long Srinagar-Leh national highway would be resumed only after the operation was over.
Official sources told UNI that the Beas bridge near Drass on the Srinagar-Drass road had suffered slight damage due to the shelling on May14.
Drass town wore a deserted look as the residents have migrated to safer places. Several houses were damaged and many animals killed due to the shelling, official sources said. Most people in Kargil have also migrated to safer places though the shells fell on mountains and near army installations this time, the sources said.
They said the Pakistani troops resorted to unprovoked shelling in the Kargil sector to give cover to about 100 heavily armed militants who were trying to enter the state on May 9.
The state authorities have closed all educational institutions till Wednesday. Most offices, shops and business establishments remained closed for the eighth day on Sunday.
About 70 people had died due to Pakistani shelling in the Kargil sector in the last two years.
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