Five security force personnel, including a Colonel and a Major, were killed in the gunbattle with terrorists in north Kashmir’s Handwara, Indian Army said on Sunday. The officers were leading a team to rescue civilians who had been taken hostage by the terrorists. “Four Indian Army personnel including the Commanding Officer, Major of 21 Rashtriya Rifles unit along with two soldiers and one Jammu and Kashmir Police jawan lost their lives in an encounter in Handwara in Jammu and Kashmir,” Army officials said. The name of the 21 Rashtriya Rifles Commanding Officer, who lost his life in the Handwara operation, is Colonel Ashutosh Sharma. He had been part of several successful counter-terrorism operations in the past, Army officials said. The two holed-up terrorists, who were eliminated in the in the encounter, included a commander of banned Lashker-e-Tayyaba, a Pakistani national who has been active in the region for some time.
The identity of the other was yet to be identified. The team of 21 Rashtriya Rifles had entered the house of a civilian to prevent a hostage situation when they came under attack from the terrorists who had already reached there. While the four Army personnel and the police sub-inspector lost their lives in the encounter, the civilians trapped in the house were safely evacuated. Modi salutes sacrifice Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid tributes to security personnel for their supreme sacrifice while fighting and eliminating terrorists at Handwara in north Kashmir on Sunday. “Tributes to our courageous soldiers and security personnel martyred in Handwara. Their valour and sacrifice will never be forgotten. They served the nation with utmost dedication and worked tirelessly to protect our citizens. Condolences to their families and friends,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted.