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Kashmir: steel bullets found during Shopian encounter last week puts armed forces on alert

Armed forces in Jammu and Kashmir have strengthened the bullet-proofing shield of their vehicles and bunkers after steel bullets that can pierce through normal protective shields were recovered from militants during an encounter in South Kashmir recently.

A few days back, the local commander of the Jaish-e-Mohammed, Vilayat Hussain Lone alias Sajjad Afghani, was killed in an encounter at Shopian. The army had recovered 36 rounds of armed steel-core bullets.

The recoveries raised alarm bells within the establishment as these bullets can harm personnel even wearing a regular protective shield.

Officials said that now the vehicles, especially deployed in South Kashmir, and personnel moving for anti-terror operations are equipped with shields that have an extra layer of protection for blunting such penetrative bullets.
The ammunition normally used in the AK series rifles was being modified from across the border with the help of Chinese technology of encasing bullets with hard steel core, the officials said.

The bullet, termed Armour Piercing (AP), is built of hardened steel or tungsten carbide, they explained.
The first incident of use of the ‘steel core’ bullet was noticed on the New Year eve of 2017 when JeM had carried out a suicide attack on a CRPF camp in Lethpora in South Kashmir.

Five paramilitary personnel were killed in the attack and one of them was hit by a bullet fatally despite using a static bullet-proof shield provided by the Army.

Normally, the bullets militants use in their assault rifles have a lead core covered with mild steel which cannot penetrate a bullet-proof shield, but after the December 31, 2017 encounter and detailed analysis, forces had to change the way they protected themselves, the officials said.

They said that the militants, mostly from Jaish, were armed with the best possible arsenal including M-4 carbines and bullets with steel core, with the capability to pierce a static bullet proof bunker used during counterterrorism operations.

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