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Indian Army pays tribute to troops who were killed during a shootout in Kashmir, in Handwara on Sunday. Image Credit: ANI

Srinagar: An Army Colonel and a Major were among five security personnel killed in an encounter with militants at a village in north Kashmir’s Handwara area, Director General of Police Dilbagh Singh said on Sunday.

“Sad to inform that five brave personnel including Colonel Ashutosh Sharma, Major Anuj Sood and sub-inspector of JKP Shakeel Qazi were martyred in the line of duty,” Singh told PTI. Lance Naik Dinesh Singh and Naik Rajesh Kumar were also killed.

Condoling the death of security personnel, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Sunday that their valour and sacrifice will never be forgotten.

“Tributes to our courageous soldiers and security personnel martyred in Handwara. Their valour and sacrifice will never be forgotten. They served the nation with utmost dedication and worked tirelessly to protect our citizens. Condolences to their families and friends,” Modi said in a tweet.

Giving details, the Army said based on the intelligence input that militants were taking hostage some civilians in a house in Changimulla at Handwara of Kupwara district, a joint operation was launched by the Army and the Jammu and Kashmir Police.

A team comprising of five Army and police personnel entered the target area occupied by the militants to evacuate the civilians and successfully extricated them, it said.

However, during the process, the team came under a heavy volume of fire by the militants and in the ensuing firefight, two militants were killed and the five troops also died, the Army said.

A wreath-laying ceremony would be held here after which the Col Sharma’s body would be flown to Bulandshahr in Uttar Pradesh and that of Major Sood to Chandigarh, the officials said.