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Soldiers killing: Army chief to visit Poonch

By:  Tupaki Desk   |   7 Aug 2013 5:50 AM GMT
Army chief General Bikram Singh will visit Poonch Wednesday to review the situation after the killing of five Indian soldiers along Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir, official sources said.

They said that the Army chief had briefed Defence minister A.K. Antony following the incident. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh spoke to Antony, they added.

The sources said that patrolling had been enhanced along the LoC.

Antony told parliament Tuesday that the attack was carried out by "about 20 heavily armed terrorists along with persons dressed in Pakistan army uniform." He also said that the Indian army had foiled 17 infiltration bids from January and killed 19 hardcore militants in over a month.

The sources said that Director General of Military Operations Lt Gen Vinod Bhatia would speak to his Pakistan counterpart in the wake of killing of Indian soldiers.

Pakistan has denied any involvement in the post midnight attack in Poonch sector.

Gen Bikram Singh is expected to meet the commanding officer and troops of the battlions whose troops were killed in the ambush, Army officials said. The ambush that killed five soldiers is one of the worst incidents along LoC since the ceasefire came into force between India and Pakistan in 2003. An wounded soldier is recuperating in a hospital at Jammu.

The soldiers killed belonged to the 21 Bihar regiment battalion and Maratha Light Infantry battalion, sources said.

They were deployed in Sarla area along the LoC near Chakan-Da-Bagh in Poonch sector in Jammu region.

The sources said that the soldiers on patrol were ambushed Tuesday between 1 a.m. and 2 a.m., 400 metres on the Indian side.

Official sources said that the norms lay down that no construction can take place 500 metres on either side of LoC. They said the attackers took advantage of bad weather as visibility was poor.

The ambush took place about 40 km away from the site of attack in January in which two soldiers were killed. One Indian soldier was beheaded and the other's body was mutilated causing a nationwide uproar. Following the incident, Gen Bikram Singh had said that the Army reserved the right to retaliate at a place and time of its choosing and had mentioned that he expected his commanders to be aggressive in the face of firing.

There have been 57 ceasefire violations by Pakistan this year, 80 percent more than the same period last year. Intelligence sources said that 97 terrorists had tried to infiltrate the LoC since January and around 40 had been successful in their attempts.