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June 5, 1999
Intruders' bodies 'spark panic' in PoK
As more and more Pakistan-backed infiltrators perish in Operation Vijay, confusion and panic have gripped Skardu in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir, according to reports.
Informed sources said that the Pakistani army has launched an operation to recover bodies of army regulars and others whom it had pushed across the LoC in the Kargil region. Many of the infiltrators are holed up in the Kargil and Batalik sectors.
The Pakistani army has to keep the death toll a secret and erase any evidence of its involvement in the infiltration. It has been taking its dead to Skardu for burial.
On Thursday, four infiltrators including a Pakistani captain were killed by the Indian Army. Earlier the Pakistani army had taken away at least 10 bodies, two of them were those of Pakistani army men.
BBC reports in the past two days said that Brigadier Rashid Qureshi has asked all women and children to vacate areas near the LoC in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir.
The reason for this evacuation is said to be the alleged Indian shelling, but it is apparently to prevent widespread panic among women and children because of the dead bodies that are taken to Skardu through their areas.
In Srinagar, Brigadier A K Chopra today said that the Indian troops were able to push back Pakistani intruders from some key locations while efforts were on to encircle them and cut off their supply lines in other areas of the Kargil sector.
He said no air strikes were conducted this morning against the intruders because of some operational reasons.
Addressing the media, he said it was now beyond doubt that the Pakistan army was directly involved in the intrusion into Indian territory.
He said the recovery of the bodies of three Pakistani soldiers along with their weapons, identity cards and other documents in the Batalik sector on June 3 was ''enough proof to suggest that the Pakistan army had intruded''.
He said about 200 intruders have been killed so far. ''We lost 51 soldiers and 230 others were injured,'' he said. Another 14 are missing in action.
When asked how much more time the Indian troops needed to restore full authority in sectors like Kargil, Drass and Mushkoh, he said the operation will ''take some time as the terrain is very difficult''.
Asked why media persons were banned from visiting Kargil, he said, ''Because of operational reasons. We have decided to take media men to Kargil in groups.''
He said the main aim of the intruders was to cut off the Srinagar-Leh national highway and push more trained infiltrators into the Kashmir valley.
He said the situation in Turtuk and other areas in Leh was totally under control.
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