Two Chechnya militants enter Kashmir Valley

Two militants, suspected to be from strife-torn autonomous Russian province of Chechnya, have made their way to the Kashmir Valley, highly placed sources said on Friday.

Last Updated: Nov 26, 2010, 13:43 PM IST

Srinagar: Two militants, suspected to be from strife-torn autonomous Russian province of Chechnya, have made their way to the Kashmir Valley, highly placed sources
said on Friday.

The militants from the Central Asian region, identified only by their code names of Umar and Usman, were spotted from a photograph recovered by police during a recent anti-militancy operation in Sopore, 52 kms from here, they said.

The photograph shows the alleged Chechen militants armed to teeth with latest assault rifles and other ammunition.

Kashmir Inspector General of Police Shiv Murari Sahai confirmed the recovery of the photograph.

"However, the contents of the photograph need to be authenticated with regard to the location where it was taken and the nationality of those pictured in it," Sahai told a news agency.

The sources said the duo have been active in Sopore for several months now and the security forces have launched special operations to track them down.

The foreign militants are believed to have sneaked into the Valley in late spring or early summer during one of the many dozen infiltration bids launched by the ultras from
across the Line of Control in north Kashmir, they said.

The sources said more than 60 militants, mostly foreigners, are active in Sopore district of Baramulla in north Kashmir.

Most of the fresh arrivals have infiltrated during the recent unrest in the Valley, official sources said putting their number at around 45.

The sources said the level of infiltration of militants has been on much higher scale than being admitted by the security grid officials.

"Most of the officers are downplaying the number of militants active in the area of their jurisdiction for varied reasons. The floating nature of the movement of militants is
also a factor that exact numbers are not known," they said.

They said nearly 50 infiltration bids have taken place in north Kashmir`s Baramulla, Bandipora and Kupwara districts alone during the current year.

Over the past 12 months, security forces have killed 30 militants and arrested 10 others -- far more than the estimated strength of the ultras in Sopore area in February
this year, the sources said.

A senior police officer earlier this year had put the number of militants in the apple town at 20 to 25, which included top Lashkar-e-Toiba commander Abdullah Ooni, who has
since reportedly crossed back to Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) after escaping the security dragnet over half a dozen times.

The sources said a dangerous trend of stone-pelters joining the militant ranks has emerged in Sopore town with at least 15 confirmed cases reported so far.

They said Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) seemed to be on a "recruitment" spree in the town, which has long been known as hot bed of militancy and separatism.

PTI