An Indian army colonel, a major and two soldiers, along with a Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) police sub-inspector, were killed in an intense counter-terrorist operation in the valley.
The intense gun battle that lasted for nearly 8 hours and is said to be one of the deadliest security forces operations in the region.
Among those martyred is Colonel Ashutosh Sharma, the Commanding Officer of 21 Rashtriya Rifles (RR) unit. He had been part of several successful counter-terrorism operations in the past.
Major Anuj Sood of 21 RR, Naik Rajesh of 21 RR, Lance Naik Dinesh of 21 RR and Sub Inspector Shakeel Qazi of J&K Police also lost their lives in the encounter in North Kashmir’s Handwara.
The team of five security personnel came under heavy fire as soon as they entered the house in which terrorists had taken cover in Changimulla, Handwara based on intelligence inputs.
Army officials have confirmed that two terrorists were subsequently gunned down during the encounter.
A team of RR upon receiving inputs that civilians were being held hostage inside a home in Changimulla, a joint operation was launched by the J&K Police and the Indian Army.
However, the security personnel came under attack from militants as soon as they entered the house. The civilians stuck in the house have been evacuated safely, as per latest reports.
Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said that “the loss of our soldiers and security personnel is deeply disturbing and painful”.
“I offer my tributes to the soldiers and security personnel who fell in action. My heart goes out to the families who lost their loved ones today. India stands shoulder to shoulder with the families of these brave martyrs,” Singh said.
He added, “They showed exemplary courage in their fight against the terrorists and made supreme sacrifice while serving the country. We will never forget their bravery and sacrifice.”