In an ongoing operation in the Poonch sector, two policemen and a soldier were wounded in a fresh exchange of fire between militants and security forces, in the Bhatadurian near of Mendhar forests. So far, in two encounters, nine Army troopers have been killed, but there is no trace of the militants yet.
Police said they were taking detainee Zia Mustafa, a LeT militant from Pakistan, to Bhatadurian to make him identify the militant hideout, but while searching, when they approached the hideout, the militants opened fire on the joint team of police and Army, in which two cops and a jawan got wounded. Zia Mustafa also sustained injuries and could not be extracted from the site due to heavy firing.
“The injured personnel are being treated at a nearby health facility. A fresh attempt will be made with reinforcements. Operation is still going on at the site,” the police said.
Mustafa was originally lodged in the high security Kot Bhalwal jail for the past 14 years, in connection with several terror-related incidents. He was shifted to Gursai police station in Mendhar tehsil for the operation.
This, after an army officer and four jawans were killed in an encounter between security forces and militants in the Surankote area of Poonch on October 11, followed by another counter militant operation in the evening of October 14, in which two Army personnel were killed in the Nar Khas forest area in Mendhar, Poonch. The Army had then said that during the operation, there was heavy exchange of fire, and that in the ensuing gunfight, riflemen Vikram Singh Negi and Yogambar Singh were critically injured. They later succumbed to their injuries.
On October 16, the Army recovered bodies of two more soldiers, Subedar Ajay Singh and Naik Harendra Singh, who were part of the operations in the forest area.
The army has pressed drones and helicopters to assist troops in the jungle, while police have detained six civilians for allegedly providing logistical support to the militants.
Authorities have ordered the suspension of traffic on Bhimber gali-Poonch national highway, as the forests overlook the main road. On August 6 this year, three militants and an Army JCO were killed in a fierce encounter in the Thanna Mandi area of Rajouri district. One of the slain militants was from the Shopian district of Kashmir, while two others were stated to be foreigners.