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J&K encounter death toll rises to 19

By Mukhtar Ahmad In Srinagar
March 23, 2009 22:04 IST
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The death toll in the fierce gun battles between holed up militants and army troops in the Shamsbhari mountain range in north Kashmir's Kupwara district has gone upto 19, according to a defence spokesman in Srinagar.

The spokesman said that five more militants were gunned down by the security forces on Monday, taking the total toll of them killed so far to eleven.

"Four soldiers of the army were also killed today," defence spokesman Lt.Col. J.S.Brar said in Srinagar on Monday evening.

An army officer, Major Mohit Sharma of the 1-Para regiment of the army and three troopers were killed in the first three days of the gunfights, according to the spokesman.

"The operation which commenced on March 20 has been on for the last four days and has witnessed intermittent gunfights between the terrorists ensconced in the higher reaches of the dense forests and the soldiers," the spokesman said.

"The thorough combing operation is in progress and it is expected that a few more terrorists may be holed up in the area including an isolated house," the spokesperson added.

The militant army gunfight in the Shamsbhari mountain range is the second longest this year after the nearly seven day long encounter in the mountainous Poonch district of Jammu region in January.

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Mukhtar Ahmad In Srinagar