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Militants elude security forces for 16 days in Kashmir forest

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Srinagar: An operation in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kupwara district to flush out militants hiding in the forest area continued for the 16th day on Saturday as the guerrillas eluded the security forces, police said.

“The operation against militants in Manigah forest area of Kupwara district is still on,” a police officer told IANS here.

“We have reports that a group of three to four heavily armed militants is still hiding in the forest,” he said.

He said some houses in this forest area were emptied to ensure the safety of the civilians.

Despite confirming several times during the last 16 days that contact had been established with the hiding guerrillas, the security forces have not been able to successfully end the operation.

Colonel Santosh Mahadik was killed during this operation when he was leading his troops from the front against the guerrillas.

Lt. Colonel S.K. Natt, second in command of a Territorial Army battalion, was injured during the operation.

Three other security men — two Territorial Army troopers and one personnel of the Special Operations Group (SOG) of the state police — have also been injured so far in this extended operation.

Police have so far been able to confirm the killing of only one guerrilla on Monday.

After the killing of a senior army officer and critical injuries to another in this operation, helicopters and para-commandos have been deployed.

“It is a huge, dense forest area and moving around without being noticed by the militants is a tough call,” said a senior police officer here.