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September 2, 1999
Army admits patrol is missing in Turtuk
Josy Joseph in New Delhi
An army patrol consisting of one officer and five soldiers has been missing from the Haneefuddin sub-sector in Turtuk sector near Kargil since the night of August 29/30, Army Headquarters revealed this evening.
The statement came after Pakistani military authorities produced two Indian soldiers saying they were captured when Indian forces launched an attack across the Line of Control in the Turtuk region.
"One Indian Army patrol consisting of one officer and five other ranks from 3 Rajput has been missing from sub-sector Haneef in the Turtuk sector since the night of 29/30 August," the army said.
Lieutenant General N C Vij, director-general of military operations, spoke to his Pakistani counterpart on August 31, asking him "to return the Indian patrol members in case they had inadvertently strayed across to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir territory", the army said.
Earlier today, the Pakistan Army showed video footage of two Indian soldiers who were apparently captured during "an act of aggression'' across the LoC at the end of August.
Army sources in New Delhi said the two soldiers are "believed to be members of the missing patrol party". A senior army officer said, "There is no news of the others."
Pakistan Army spokesman Brig Rashid Qureshi told a press conference in Islamabad that the two soldiers were safe in their custody. He claimed that they were taken prisoner when 400 Indian troops launched an attack across the LoC in the Shyok-Turtuk sector.
The Indian Army has denied any such attack.
The Pakistanis have identified the prisoners as Ram Singh [No 2984373] and Bajinder Singh [No 2996593] of the 3 Rajput battalion.
The Indian Army has denied launching any attack across the LoC, but admitted that the patrol could have "inadvertently strayed across to PoK".
Tension at the LoC has been mounting over the past week with the Pakistanis trying to capture several protective patrol positions of the Indians.
The Indian Army claimed to have killed 19 Pakistani soldiers who crossed the LoC and launched an attack on the patrol positions.
Army Headquarters had said yesterday that Pakistan launched attacks on August 31 and September 1 on various protective patrol positions at Kachrial in Palanwala in Akhnoor sector, the Hamirpur battalion in the Rajouri sector, and the Radha battalion in Naugam area. Army sources had also admitted fighting at Turtuk, where from the patrol party went missing.
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