Two more Army soldiers were killed and another jawan was injured as firing resumed between hiding terrorists and troops in Jammu and Kashmir's Poonch district after five days. A Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO), who was part of the team ambushed by the terrorists on late Thursday evening, is still missing.
During the last five days, seven soldiers including one JCO were killed while terrorists managed to escape unhurt after committing two back-to-back deadly attacks on the troops engaged in combing and search operations in the forest area on the borer of Poonch and Rajouri districts.
A fresh encounter erupted in Bhatta Durrian forests in Mendhar tehsil of Poonch district. After resorting to indiscriminating firing on the troops, terrorists remained untraced for the fifth consecutive day today.
Heavy exchange of firing going on in Mendhar
"A counter-terrorist operation by the Army is in progress in the area of Nar Khas Forest in Mendhar area of Poonch district since Thursday evening", Defence spokesman Col Devender Anand said, adding, "During the operation, there was heavy exchange of fire and in the ensuing gunfight Rifleman Vikram Singh Negi and Rifleman Yogambar Singh were critically injured and later succumbed to their injuries."
"Rifleman Vikram Singh Negi and Rifleman Yogambar Singh displayed exemplary courage, devotion and made the supreme sacrifice in the line of duty", he said, adding, "the nation will always remain indebted to these Bravehearts for their supreme sacrifice for the nation."
Rifleman Vikram Singh Negi, aged 26 years, is a resident of village Viman Gaon, post office Khand, tehsil Narendra Nagar of district Tehri Garhwal of Uttrakhand. Rifleman Yogambar Singh, aged 27 years is a resident of village Sankari, post office Trishulla, tehsil Pokhari of district Chamoli of Uttrakhand
"The operation is still in progress till the last report came in," the defence spokesperson said.
JCO missing, special teams deputed inside the forest
Although authorities are tightlipped over the number of casualties in two back-to-back encounters in Poonch district, sources said that a JCO, who was part of the team ambushed by terrorists, is still missing. "Two bodies of soldiers were retrieved but a JCO is still missing", sources said and added that special teams have been deputed inside the forest area to locate the missing officer.
Traffic on Jammu-Poonch national highway suspended
Authorities have ordered the suspension of traffic on Jammu Poonch national highway from Bhimbar Gali as the forests overlook the main road and advised the population living near the vicinity of Bhatta Durrian forests to stay home while additional reinforcement has been rushed to the spot.
Initial reports said that the terrorist group appeared to be the same which attacked troops in Surankote tehsil of Poonch district, bordering Panghai area of Thannamandi in Rajouri district on October 11, killing five Army personnel including one JCO and four soldiers.
"While the troops are hunting the terrorists, the group which struck on Monday and Bhatta Durrian Thursday appeared to be the same. The exact number of the terrorists is yet to be ascertained," reports quoting DIG Rajouri-Poonch range Vivek Gupta, said.
Troops suffered the worst casualties on Monday
The casualties on Monday were the worst security forces have suffered in anti-insurgency operations in J&K this year. The security forces suffered significant casualties before this in May 2020 when five personnel, including a Colonel and a Major, were killed in an 18-hour anti-insurgency operation in the Handwara area of Kashmir Valley.
The Army has launched a search operation in a forest area between the mountainous twin border districts of Rajouri and Poonch. An army officer said the loss of seven soldiers within four days clearly shows that infiltration attempts are on and some of them were successful.
Major terrorist attacks on Army in Jammu province
- On October 11, 2021, five soldiers including one JCO killed when terrorists ambushed troops near Surankote in the Poonch district
- Feb 10, 2018: A group of heavily-armed terrorists struck at sprawling Sunjuwan Military Camp on the outskirts of Jammu killing 10 Army personnel. All three terrorists were eliminated.
- November 29, 2016: 7 Army soldiers including two officers were martyred in a fidayeen attack at Nagrota camp. All three terrorists were neutralized.
- November 27, 2014: Three Army personnel were among 10 persons killed at the border village of Kathar in the Arnia sector of Jammu district, located close to the International Border.
- September 26, 2013: Four Army personnel and an equal number of policemen besides two civilians were killed in twin suicide attacks by the terrorists at Samba and Kathua districts. Lieutenant Colonel Bikramjeet Singh was among the martyrs. The attackers were gunned down.
- August 6, 2013: Five Army soldiers were martyred in BAT action at Chakkan-Da-Bagh in Poonch.
- July 22, 2003: Eight security personnel including a Brigadier lost their lives in the fidayeen attack in Akhnoor camp. The terrorists were liquidated.
- May 14, 2002: 36 persons including jawans and their family members were killed in a fidayeen attack at Kaluchak in Jammu district.