LoC killings: Army Chief cancels Poonch visit

Army Chief General Bikram Singh is in Jammu and Kashmir to review the situation after the killing of five Indian soldiers along Line of Control.

Zee Media Bureau

Jammu: Army Chief General Bikram Singh on Wednesday paid tribute to five Indian soldiers, who were killed along Line of Control by the Pakistani troops on Tuesday, at an airport here.

Bad weather, however, forced the cancellation of his visit to Poonch district where the incident occurred.

Due to bad weather, the chopper carrying him could not take off and General Bikram Singh then travelled to Akhnoor, 30 km from here, to meet the local commanders, sources said.

On his arrival here, General Bikram Singh first visited the Nagrota headquarters of 16 Corps, which is responsible for manning the LoC in Jammu region, including the Poonch district.

He later interacted with senior Army officers at the division headquarters at Rajouri.

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

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

According to official sources, the Army chief had briefed Defence Minister AK 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 on 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.
Top military commanders of Pakistan and India today spoke on hotline to reduce tensions along the Line of Control.

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

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. A wounded soldier is recuperating in a hospital at Jammu.

The sources said that the soldiers on patrol were ambushed Tuesday between 1 am and 2 am, 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.

(With IANS inputs)

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