Eyewitness Of Surgical Strike Across The LoC Gives Graphic Details
Eyewitnesses living across the Line of Control (LoC) have provided The Indian Express with graphic accounts of last week’s Indian Army special forces strikes on jihadists’ staging posts, describing how bodies of those killed in clashes before dawn on September 29 were loaded onto trucks for secret burials. The eyewitnesses also described brief but intense fire engagements that destroyed makeshift buildings that housed jihadists before they left for the last stage of their journeys across the LoC.
Their accounts corroborate India’s claims that it carried out strikes against terror launch pads — a claim Pakistan has denied, saying, instead, that its military’s forward positions were targeted with small-arms and mortar fire.
They also provide, for the first time, details on some of the locations targeted in the operation, information which the governments of India and Pakistan have not made public.
However, eyewitness accounts, as well as intelligence records obtained by The Indian Express, suggest that fatalities in the raids may have been lower than the 38-50 killed attributed to Indian officials in reports, including in this newspaper, and have caused little damage to jihadist logistics and infrastructure.
Five eyewitnesses were contacted by The Indian Express through their kin living on the Indian side of the LoC and questions were sent to them using a commercially available encrypted chat system. The eyewitnesses’ identities are being withheld for their safety at the request of their families.
Indian journalists have no access to the Pakistani side of the LoC and the only Pakistan media reporting from these regions has been after a team of journalists were taken to some areas by the military there.
The most detailed account of the fighting came from two eyewitnesses who visited Dudhnial, a small hamlet some 4 km across the LoC from India’s nearest forward post, Gulab, ahead of the town of Kupwara. The eyewitness reported seeing a gutted building across the Al-Haawi bridge from the hamlet’s main bazaar, where a military outpost and a compound used by the Lashkar are both sited.
Al-Haawi bridge is the last point where infiltrating groups are loaded with supplies before beginning their climb up to the LoC towards Kupwara, both eyewitnesses said.
Local residents told one of the eyewitnesses that loud explosions — possibly rounds fired from 84-mm Carl Gustav rifles — were heard from across the Al-Haawi bridge late in the night, along with intense small-arms fire. “People did not come out to see what was going on,” the eyewitness reported, “so did not see Indian soldiers but they gathered from the Lashkar people the next day that they had been attacked.”
Five, perhaps six, bodies were loaded on to a truck early next morning, and possibly transported to the nearest major Lashkar camp at Chalhana, across the Neelum river from Teetwal, on the Indian side of the LoC, the eyewitness said he was told by local residents.