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J&K: More militant strikes expected during winter
November 13, 2007 22:36 IST
Despite major successes against militants in Kashmir Valley so far this year, the recent rise in militant attacks in the state has put the security forces on the alert as more such strikes are expected during winter.
According to police sources, nearly 250 new militants have managed to sneak into the Valley from across the Line of Control with most of them concentrated in north Kashmir areas like Sopore, Bandipora, Handwara, Nowgam and Kupwara.
However, intelligence agencies put the figure of militants active in the Valley at the moment at around 1,200.
Although more than 150 militants have been killed along the LoC in the Valley during the year so far, many more have managed to sneak in despite tight surveillance along the borders.
It is not easy to ensure zero infiltration along such a long border, which passes through difficult terrain and mountainous regions of the Valley, the sources said.
The situation in Pakistan, where the government has launched a crackdown on extremist elements, has also increased the movement from across the LoC, they said.
While many a time intelligence inputs received by security forces have helped in scuttling major infiltration bids, smaller batches of two to three militants might have been successful in reaching the Valley, the sources said.
The encounters in Sopore and Pattan towns have proved that the militants have managed to reach interiors of the Valley.
One dozen militants have been killed in these encounters over the last week, but security forces also suffered huge losses during the operations.
Six security forces personnel including an army officer were killed and more than a dozen injured in the three operations which lasted a week.
The sources said the militants have sneaked into the Valley to replenish the diminishing manpower and weaponry so that they can keep their presence felt throughout the winter months.
Most of the attacks carried out by militants are suicidal in nature as the ultras chose a building where they can engage security forces for long hours and grab the headlines, they said.
The encounter inside a hotel building in Sopore which lasted more than 60 hours is an example of the militants carrying out survey before choosing the target building, the sources said.
Had the intention of militants been to inflict damage on security forces, they could have targeted the nearby security forces camp.
But they chose the strong hotel building located in a densely populated area, which made the job of the security forces all the more difficult as they had to ensure there was no collateral damage, they added.
It becomes easier to carry arms and explosives during the winter as everybody puts on several layers of clothing and the most common mode of attack is hurling hand grenades, they said.
Inspector General of Police S M Sahai said while the militants have been active across Kashmir Valley, it would be difficult to put out an exact number.
"We are prepared to take on them and we are in control of the situation," he said attributing the successful anti-militancy operations in the Valley so far to the pro-active initiatives of the security forces.