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‘Will never forget’: Rajnath Singh condoles death of army men in Handwara encounter

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Sunday offered condolences on the passing away of five security personnel, including a highly-decorated colonel of the Indian Army, in an encounter between security forces and terrorists in Handwara, Jammu and Kashmir.

“I offer my tributes to the soldiers and security personnel who fell in action,” Singh tweeted.

The defence minister said that India stands “shoulder to shoulder” with the families of these “brave martyrs”. He said the country will never forget their bravery and sacrifice.

“The loss of our soldiers and security personnel in Handwara (J&K) is deeply disturbing and painful. They showed exemplary courage in their fight against the terrorists and made supreme sacrifice while serving the country. We will never forget their bravery and sacrifice,” his tweet read. 

A highly-decorated colonel of the Indian Army was among five security personnel killed during an operation to flush out terrorists from a house in Handwara in north Kashmir, officials said on Sunday. The operation lasted for over 12 hours.

Two terrorists were also killed in the encounter that began around 3:30 pm on Saturday after they took hostages inside a house in Chanjmulla area of Handwara.

Colonel Ashutosh Sharma, the commanding officer of the army’s 21 Rashtriya Rifles battalion, Major Anuj, a Lance Naik and a rifleman and sub-inspector Shakeel Qazi of the Jammu and Kashmir police were killed in the firefight with terrorists who were holed up in the house.

Officials said their bodies have been recovered from the encounter site. The civilians have been rescued, they added.

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