Srinagar: The Army on Sunday paid homage to and laid to rest its canine soldier ‘Axel’ who made the supreme sacrifice during an anti-terror operation but not before pinpointing the location of a holed-up terrorist and thereby protecting a mosque in the vicinity.
The terrorist, who was later identified as Kupwara-resident Akhtar Hussain Bhatt, was killed by security forces after an eight-hour-long gunfight in the Wanigam Bala area of Kreeri in Baramulla district on Saturday.
The slain terrorist was affiliated with the banned Jaish-e-Mohammed.
Officials said two-year-old ‘Axel’, a German shepherd attached with the Army’s 26 Dog Unit, played a key role in the operation.
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After an Army jawan and a policeman suffered injuries during the encounter, ‘Axel’, attached with a body camera, was pressed into action.
”The presence of a mosque within 10 metres of the target house further necessitated operation calibration and no high calibre weapons were used to neutralise the terrorist,” an official said.
‘Axel’ managed to pinpoint the location of the holed-up terrorist but in the process fell to the enemy bullets.
Because of ‘Axel’, the security forces could gun down the terrorist without violating the sanctity of the mosque and any damage to it.
”Thank you for your service, Axel,” the Srinagar-based Chinar Corps of the Army tweeted alongside a file photo of the German shepherd.
The Army paid homage to ‘Axel’ in a solemn military ceremony in Pattan on Sunday.
Major General S S Slaria, General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the Kilo Force, paid homage to the canine soldier.
It was an emotional moment for Axel’s handler who has been its guardian, caretaker, trainer and the closest buddy for the last two years.
The canine was buried in the premises of the 26 Army Dog Unit in the presence of unit personnel and officials.
‘Axel’ will always be remembered for his professional competence, bravery and supreme sacrifice, officials said.