A wreath laying ceremony held at HQ, 10 Sector Rashtriya Rifles, in honour of army dog Axel

Axel latched onto the terrorist despite being shot at

New Delhi: Two-year-old Axel, a Belgian Malinois of the army’s elite assault dog squad, was shot dead by a terrorist in Kashmir’s Baramulla district Sunday, minutes after the canine soldier sniffed out the hiding terrorist.

Army sources said that initially, another assault dog, Bajaj, went in first to sanitise the building in Baramulla’s Wanigam Bala village.

Axel was deployed after the first room of the building had been sanitised. Sources said that the dog first entered the same room and cleared it. As soon as he entered the second room, he was fired upon by a terrorist hiding there.

An exchange of fire ensued between the troops and the terrorists, and once the operation was over, Axel’s body was retrieved. Axel’s handler also sustained superficial injuries, the sources said.

It is understood that Axel latched onto the terrorist despite being shot at, as the dog’s post-mortem report showed that besides the bullet entry and exit wounds, he sustained more than ten other wounds along with a fracture on his femur.

Army sources said Axel’s bravery helped save the lives of the soldiers who were part of the operation as room intervention is very risky.

The canine soldier, who had just turned two last month, belonged to the 26 Army Dog Unit and was in operation with the 29 Rashtriya Rifles.

A wreath laying ceremony was held at the headquarters, 10 Sector Rashtriya Rifles, Sunday, which was attended by Maj. Gen. SS Slaria, general officer commanding (GoC) of the counter insurgency force Kilo, and representatives of the Jammu & Kashmir Police.

The 26 Army Dog Unit (ADU) and Axel’s handler also paid their last respects to the fallen canine. The burial of the brave dog will take place in 26 ADU premises.