Srinagar: The operation to gun down terrorists in Gadole forests of Kokernag in Anantnag continued for the fifth day on Sunday even as security forces used their most-advanced drone Heron Mark-2 in their relentless efforts to bust the hideouts.
The faceoff that has continued for over 110 hours now began on Wednesday and three officers, including two from the Army and one from the Police, were killed during the encounter.
Leading from the front, two Army officers - Colonel Manpreet Singh and Major Ashish Dhonchak of the 19RR, and Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Muhammad Humayun Muzamil Bhat - were killed in the encounter.
Two more soldiers were injured, among them one later succumbed to his injuries. Senior officials in the security establishment said that the operation has almost entered its final phase.
“Intense operation continues despite intermittent rain in the area, with the anti-terror squads targeting suspected hideouts of the terrorists with an array of weapons including Carl-Gustaf Carl Gustaf 8.4 cm recoilless rifle (rocket launchers) and Under-Barrel Grenade Launchers (UBGLs),” they said.
The operation involves some of the Army’s toughest fighting men, including those from the Special Forces, and counter-terrorism units from the J&K Police.
“The assault and climbing team of the Army and J&K Police have taken position in the towering and dense forest, and there is a relentless offensive on target hideouts,” senior officials said.
A report said that one of the hideouts in Gadole forests caught fire late Sunday afternoon, but there was no official confirmation.
The heavily armed terrorists, believed to be two-three in number, are in a tactically favourable location in the dense and steep forest of Gadole.
Experts said that this indicates a new pattern being used by the terrorists to take on the security structure in Kashmir.
On Sunday, the footage from the ongoing counter-terrorist operation in the Gadole forest showed how drones were trying to capture live locations of terrorists while security forces shelled their hideouts. New video footage showed the utilisation of drones for surveillance and various operational tasks.
Official of the security establishment said that the Army since last two days and for the first time in any terrorist operation pressed into service its most advanced drone Heron Mark-2 to attack the terrorists said to be hiding in the dense jungle of Kokernag, which is a hilly area.
Utilising advanced technology, including Unmanned Aerial Systems like Heron drones, the security forces have persistently maintained a vigilant watch on the terrorists.
These drones conduct intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance missions (ISR), providing crucial information to the ground forces.
Officials said that the security forces had widened the area of operation to the neighbouring area.
The security cordon has been extended to the neighbouring areas as a precautionary measure to ensure that terrorists do not slip into civilian habitation.