Poonch Gunfight Spreads to Rajouri, 5 Soldiers Killed

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Srinagar: The fierce gunbattle that started during an anti-militancy operation in Poonch district of Jammu and that left five Army soldiers, including a Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO), dead on Monday morning, had by evening spread to nearby Rajouri district, reports reaching here said.

Media reports from New Delhi quoting official sources said an encounter, which started between a joint team of security forces and militants in Chamrer forest area of Surankote in Poonch, had by evening spread to Bhangai village of Rajouri district.

The operation was launched in a village close to Dera Ki Gali in Surankote in the early hours of Monday following intelligence inputs about the presence of militants, a Defence spokesman said.

He said the militants opened heavy fire on the search parties resulting in critical injuries to the JCO and four other ranks.

All the five soldiers later succumbed to their injuries.

The encounter with the militants was going on and further details are awaited, the spokesman said.

However, according to reports, by the evening hours the encounter had spread to Bhangai village near DKG in Rajouri district.

Report added the Bhangai in Rajouri district, where the firing started late evening, is adjacent to the earlier site in Poonch district.

News agency ANI reported that a soldier has also been injured in the encounter going on at a distance of 2 km from the morning incident.

The officials said there are reports about the presence of a group of heavily-armed militants in Chamrer forest after they managed to sneak from across the Line of Control (LoC).

Reinforcements have been rushed to the area to plug all escape routes to ensure the militants are killed, they said.

Since the operational area is the same as two of the frontier districts of Rajouri and Poonch share the border, security agencies fear the militants might have changed the location, as per the reports.

Meanwhile, Lt Col Devender Anand, Public Relations Officer, Defence, Jammu, identified the slain soldiers as Naib Subedar Jaswinder Singh, a resident of district Kapurthala in Punjab; Naik Mandeep Singh of Punjab's Gurdaspur district; Sepoy Gajjan Singh of Punjab’s Ropar district; Sepoy Saraj Singh of Uttar Pradesh’s Shahjahanpur district and Sepoy Vaisakh H of Kerala’s Kollam district. (With inputs from PTI)

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