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Army battles for 11th day to stave off biggest incursion since Kargil

Terror strike in Samba aimed at aiding infiltration in Keran sector

ON SEPTEMBER 26, two days after the Indian Army encountered heavy infiltration in the Keran sector from across the Line of Control ( LoC), four terrorists crossed the international border and entered Jammu storming a police station in Kathua and followed it by attacking an army camp in Samba.

It was meant to be a spectacular, bruising strike on the army hitting at its morale. It turns out that the terrorists in Samba were part of a plan to divert attention and push in armed men from Pakistan.

This is going to be no easy fight. The army claims that the militants crossing the line were well trained. This was a clear indication that Pakistan army regulars and border action teams were behind the attempts.

On Saturday, army claimed to have killed four militants while thwarting an infiltration bid along the Line of Control in Fatehgali in Keran sector. This was after suggesting on Friday that the attackers had been repulsed. The army said six AK- 47 assault rifles and four pistols had been recovered from the slain militants. " There was an encounter at Fatehgali area early morning today. Four infiltrators have been killed. We have recovered war like ammunition from the slain militants," army spokesman, Narish Vij, said. He said the operation was still on. However, Vij refused to comment on whether fresh infiltrators were coming to assist those holed up in the Shalbhot. The army is possibly in denial over the nature of the strike from across the border.

As the army began flushing out infiltrators from Keran in north Kashmir's Kupwara sector in operations that continued for the 11th day -- this is, for all purposes, the biggest incursion since Kargil in 1999 -- intelligence inputs indicate that Pakistanbased terror groups are making efforts to enter Jammu from the international border as a diversionary tactic even as large- scale infiltration takes place on the LoC. An intelligence note based on telephone intercepts by intelligence agencies accessed by MAIL TODAY generated on September 28 is proof of how attacks, similar to the ones carried out in Samba and Kathua, are being planned. " Carrying out simultaneous attacks from LoC and the international border is part of a strategy to divert the attention of Indian forces," said an intelligence officer.

Despite the intercept and knowledge of at least two more terrorists trying to enter the area, an intelligence input generated on September 30 said that " another group of terrorists is hiding at a safe location and may strike in near future. Location of the group is not known." Sources say it is now clear that Pakistanbased terror group Jaish- e- Mohammed led by Masood Azhar is behind the attacks in Samba and Kathua and areas in Jammu are being targeted through new routes.

The conversations intercepted by intelligence agencies are between a JeM commander in Pakistan who is coded 88 and one terrorist being referred to as ' H4' who escaped. " H4 was utilised as a guide and is still in the area of Samba and Kathua for receiving the terrorists groups which are to be infiltrated," the intelligence note says.

In the intercepted conversation, the JeM commander gives instructions to a terrorist in Jammu to make arrangements for two more terrorists. According to the intel note, ' H4' is an area commander of the Poonch- Rajouri sector but has now been shifted to Samba and Kathua in Jammu.

Intel inputs

There are suggestions that the Samba strike could have been avoided. Sources say that specific intelligence inputs about terrorists from Pakistan entering through the international border were generated last month. But these were ignored as armed terrorists entered India to carry out the attack on the police station and an army camp on September 26. The input was generated last month by intelligence agencies and security forces after the attack in Poonch near the LoC where five army personnel were killed. Sources said a report based on ground intelligence was prepared after the attack last month that terrorists backed by the Pakistani army were likely to use the international border for infiltration and attacking the security forces. Samba and Kathua were identified as the most vulnerable spots.

Attempts to breach the line of control are getting far more frequent and determined.

Recoveries from dead militants in the last two attempts showed they were carrying " war- like ammunition". There was clear sense of desperation to enter the hinterland before the onset of winter. The terrain in the Shalbhot region has helped militants in getting cover. The dense forest is located at over 9,000 feet.

In Friday's incident in Gujjurtur adjoining Shalbhot where the operation is on. Officials claimed the operation in Shalbhot was in final stages and the army had cordoned off the area of operation to prevent militants from slipping in.

As the Army began flushing out infiltrators in Keran, intelligence inputs indicated that Pakistan- based terror groups were making efforts to enter Jammu


The phone intercept of JeM commander coded 88 in Pakistan and H4 terrorist in Jammu

Hello H4, Sunaiye kya hl hai, khairiyat hai, pki taraf bande ayenge. Unke liye khane ka intezam kar dena, jaisa vo khana chahe... Do bande ayenge 2- 3 din ka km hai.

Takreeban rt ko unko rawana kar dena bki hum ge bata denge... unhone karna hoga kuch na kuch. Aur sunaiye khairiyat hai, rabita rakhna, ok.

( Hello H4, how are you? All well. People will cross over to your side. Arrange food for them, of their choice. Two people will come for about 2- 3 days. Send them at night and we will give instructions later. They will have to do something. And is everything fine? Take care.)

Defining the LC

LC, or LoC, is different from LAC ( Line of Actual Control) -- the boundary between areas currently held by China and India. It is also different from Actual Ground Position Line ( AGPL) -- the un- demarcated area northeast of NJ 9842 -- and much different from the Working Boundary ( a term used only by Pakistan).

The LC is an imaginary line running along the current frontier between India and Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir. Although the Instrument of Accession of Aug 26, 1947 and Joint Resolution of the two Houses of Parliament of Jul 1994 place the whole of J& K with India, the actual ground position has emerged over the last 65 years commencing with Pakistan's invasion in 1947, the conflicts of 1965, 1971 and 1999 ( Kargil), as also the proxy war launched by Pakistan since 1989.

The LC runs east of the actual International Boundary and is the alignment along which the operations of 1947- 48 came to a halt, thus creating Pakistan- occupied Kashmir.

What is BAT

Border Action Team is a mix of Pakistan Army regulars, Pakistan Special Forces elements and high- profile terrorists ( jihadis), who are trained to cross the LC to execute raids on Indian pickets and ambush patrol parties or logistics elements.

One team comprises 15- 20 members. Beheading has been one of the modus operandi adopted by these teams.

The immediate effect of information about concentration of a BAT opposite a particular segment of the LC is an inevitable strengthening of the defensive stance, stronger patrols, more protection for logistics elements -- all at the cost of the counter infiltration grid.

The situation can then be exploited for strong infiltration bids through gaps.

Obviously, BAT actions are in the mould of terrorist acts launched with the intent of creating tactical conditions for infiltration.

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Geographic Code:9PAKI
Date:Oct 6, 2013
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