SRINAGAR, May 3 - In a setback, two senior Army officers, including a colonel-rank officer, were among five security personnel killed during an encounter with terrorists at a village in Rajwar forests of north Kashmir, officials said on Sunday.
The deceased security personnel are Colonel Ashutosh Sharma, Major Anuj Sood, Naik Rajesh and Lance Naik Dinesh, all from the Brigade of GUARDS regiment, and at present part of the 21 Rashtriya Rifles, deployed to counter terrorism in the hinterland.
A Jammu and Kashmir Police sub-inspector, Shakeel Qazi, also fell victim to the bullets of terrorists.
The two holed-up terrorists, who were eliminated in the encounter, included commander of banned Lashker-e-Taiba Haider, a Pakistani national who has been active in the north Kashmir area.
The identity of the other was yet to be ascertained.
They had held some civilians hostage, the officials said.
Security forces had noticed the presence of some terrorists in the Rajwar forests in Handwara area for the past few days and a brief exchange of fire had taken place on Thursday deep inside the jungles.
Around Saturday afternoon, intelligence inputs indicated presence of the same group of terrorists inside a house at Changimulla village, prompting security forces to launch a search operation.
After a considerable lull, Col Sharma and four other personnel barged into a cowshed adjacent to the house, presuming that the terrorists had been eliminated in the heavy gunfire.
According to the officials, the team came under heavy fire after rescuing the civilians and all communication link with Col Sharma and his team were snapped. Calls made on the mobile numbers of the team were answered by terrorists.
The Army then rushed in paratroopers, who after ascertaining that the Army officer and his team were killed in the encounter, launched an offensive by the first light of the day and killed the two terrorists.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi led the nation in paying tributes to the soldiers. � PTI