The Army has arrested 23 members of three different families while they were attempting to cross the Line of Control in the Keran sector of Kupwara district in Kashmir. The guide for the group however, escaped from custody on Monday.

Informed sources told The Hindu that the army rounded up 24 persons when they were attempting to cross Kishen Ganga river, (called the Neelum in PoK) on the LoC on Monday night. The group comprised of the guide, five men, five women and 14 children. The group included three former militants, who had returned to Kashmir via Nepal, their Pakistani wives and children besides a guide, sources said.

Deputy Commissioner of Kupwara Itrat Hussain Rafiquee confirmed to The Hindu that the group had been captured by the Army on a tip off and subsequently handed over to Keran police. Mr. Rafiquee said the group had managed to reach Keran along with necessary logistics support to cross the river.

Though such groups of former militants returning from PoK illegally along with families and children have been intercepted and captured in the past, sources said it was for the first time that such a large group was caught while attempting to cross over to PoK.

War is no option, says Omar

Meanwhile Chief Minister Omar Abdullah at a public meeting at Tangdar in the adjoining Karnah sector on Wednesday said war was not an option to resolve the Kashmir issue between India and Pakistan. He reiterated that Pakistan had continued to violate the ceasefire and it had not created a conducive atmosphere for the DGMOs meeting that had been decided between Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh and Nawaz Sharif in New York last month. "Let friendship be reciprocated by friendship". Mr Abdullah said.

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