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June 26, 1999
IAF smashes new Pak supply camp in Batalik
The Indian Air Force carried out effective strikes on an enemy camp in the Muntho Dhalo area in the Batalik sector while elsewhere in Drass and the Mushkoh Valley artillery pounded positions held by the Pakistani infiltrators in the last 24 hours.
"All positions are being softened and they will be evicted," Indian Army spokesman Colonel Bikram Singh asserted in New Delhi.
He said five Indian soldiers were killed and 23 injured in fighting since yesterday. Among those killed was Captain Aditya Mishra of the Corps of Signals. This takes the Indian casualty list to 173 killed, 360 wounded and nine missing.
Col Singh said 379 Pakistani soldiers have been killed in the conflict, including four since yesterday. An assessment by the Indian Army showed that 70 of them were from the 4 Northern Light Infantry, which has entrenched itself in some pockets in the Batalik sector.
As a result of the heavy casualties, the Pakistani Army is readying a battalion to replace 4 NLI, Col Singh said.
He said reliable intelligence reports had revealed that the morale of the Pakistani troops is very low and incentives are being offered to motivate them.
Group Captain D N Ganesh, joint director of operations and spokesman for the IAF, said that while reconnaissance and air defence missions were carried out all over the Kargil sector, air attacks were carried out only in Drass, the Mushkoh Valley, and Muntho Dhalo in the face of surface-to-air missiles fired by the intruders.
He stressed that the new attack techniques developed by the Western Air Command had proved to be very effective and the fighters are adopting the tactics to press home the strikes effectively.
On June 17, the IAF had reduced a large enemy camp at Muntho Dhalo to rubble. But reconnaissance missions over the last few days revealed that another supply camp had been established in the same area. This camp was attacked today and initial reports were promising, the officer said.
"While operational tactics and strategies are under constant review, the guiding principles and parameters laid down by the government remain sacrosanct. All our operations remain restricted to our own side of the LoC [Line of Control]," he said.
Asked about the achievements of the IAF, which completed a month of air strikes today, he said the results of the operations should be understood in the context of the terrain in which they are taking place.
He gave the example of how in 1971 the battle of Longewala was won with just four Hunters. But it has taken 21 days just to clear the Tololing ridgeline. Air operations in mountain terrain take time to show results, he added.
Col Singh denied that surface-to-surface missiles were used in the operations yesterday. He said Pakistan resorted to unprovoked artillery and mortar firing in the Kanzalwan, Karen, Uri, Poonch, Krishnaghati, Bhimbalgari and Naushera sectors.
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