Army Sounds High Alert In Pir Panjal After Fresh Firefight

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Srinagar: Army on Tuesday sounded high alert around Pir Panjal range after a fresh firefight raged on between a group of militants and the joint team of forces in Dera Ki Gali (DKG) forest area along the Rajouri-Poonch border.

According to officials, the exchange of fire between a heavily armed group of militants and the joint team of police and army started at 2pm Tuesday near Bhangai Top in the DKG area along the inter-district border. The fresh firefight, they said, took place after a gap of 16 hours.

On Monday morning, a fierce gun-battle broke out when army launched a search operation in DKG forest area to flush out militants. In the exchange of fire, five soldiers, including a Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) were killed.

“The operation in DKG has been continuously going on since yesterday. As per inputs it is believed that 3-4 militants are holed up inside the area. These are the same militants who had earlier fired upon five soldiers in Poonch and had by evening fled to Rajouri,” PRO Defence Jammu, Lt Col Devendra Anand, told Kashmir Observer Tuesday.

“There has been a fresh contact with the militants today at around 2pm.The exchange of fire has been reported from Bhangai Top near DKG and the operation is going on,” he said.

The army spokesperson said that keeping in view this operation and encounter, a security high alert has been sounded in the entire Pir Panjal range with all the security personnel ordered to remain vigilant.

In the security high alert issued, it has been mentioned that a group of militants that is presently hiding in forest area near Dera Ki Gali can possibly manage to escape from the spot taking benefit of dense forest cover and bad weather conditions.

"In order to check any such escape, the security agencies have asked the security forces in the border hinterlands to maintain the highest mode of alertness. Surprise nakas and patrols have also been started in the range." Anand said.

He further said that troops from Rashtriya Rifles and J&K Police have been deployed in the area to neutralise the militants.

“We’re yet to ascertain the fact whether these militants are using any advanced weaponry or not,” he said.

When asked about the origin of these militants, the army spokesperson said that we’re yet to ascertain their identity and country of origin.

Notably, the twin districts of Rajouri and Poonch in the Jammu region have witnessed a rise in infiltration attempts since June this year, leading to the killing of nine militants in separate encounters.

Militants Were Present In Area For 2 To 3 Months

Jammu and Kashmir Police said on Tuesday that militants involved in the attack on security forces in Poonch district in which five army personnel including a JCO lost their lives were in the area for two to three months.

Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) Rajouri-Poonch range Vivek Gupta told reporters that the militants have been confined to a particular area and asserted that the operation shall be taken "to a logical conclusion in the shortest time".

Gupta said that a cordon and search operation was launched by the security forces on Monday when militants attacked a party that was part of CASO, leaving five army personnel dead.

The DIG said that later there was again contact with a group of militants at another location. "There was no further progress in the operation due to the typography of the area", he said.

Asked if the militants involved in the attack had recently infiltrated, he said that the "group was present in the area for two to three months. The area where contact took place and attack took place are in the same belt."

The police officer said that the joint parties have cordoned the area as part of the operation. "We are confident that it shall be taken to a logical conclusion in the shortest time", he said.

Asked about the number of militants suspected to be involved, he said they have made an estimation but will not divulge it in view of the ongoing operation.

He also denied that the “terrorists” were getting any local support.

He said that the operation is being conducted with a certain strategy and "in previous operations too in these belts, they took a certain time but we were successful in eliminating terrorists".

 

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Zaid Bin Shabir

Zaid Bin Shabir is a special correspondent at Kashmir Observer. He tweets @Zaidbinshabir

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