No fresh contact with militants in Poonch forests

A rocket launcher fired by security forces to eliminate the militants in DKG forests on Tuesday. -Excelsior/Rahi Kapoor
A rocket launcher fired by security forces to eliminate the militants in DKG forests on Tuesday. -Excelsior/Rahi Kapoor

*Ultras confined to particular area: DIG

Excelsior Correspondent

JAMMU, Oct 12: Security forces continued a massive search operation for second consecutive day today in forest area of Dera Ki Gali (DKG) falling between Rajouri and Poonch districts, where five soldiers including a Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) were martyred in a gunfight with the militants yesterday.
There was no fresh contact with the militants during the ongoing operation in the dense forest areas of DKG falling between Surankote in Poonch and Thannamandi in Rajouri, the officials said.
Five soldiers, including a JCO, were martyred yesterday when a group of heavily-armed militants opened fire on an Army search party at village Chamrer in Surankote.
After the initial encounter, the militants fled to nearby Panghai forest which falls in the jurisdiction of Rajouri’s Thannamandi and were chased by the troops and engaged in another encounter, the officials said.
Security forces fired rocket launchers in the forest area today but there were no immediate report of killing of the militants.
The gunfight between the two sides stopped last evening after two contacts as the militants took advantage of the dense forest and fled, the officials said, adding that the whole forest belt was cordoned off and a search operation is underway to neutralise the hiding ultras.
The officials said senior police and Army officers also rushed to the area to supervise the operation.
The twin districts of Rajouri and Poonch in Jammu region have witnessed a rise in infiltration attempts since June this year, resulting in the killing of nine militants in separate encounters. Three soldiers also laid down their lives in the previous operations.
Speaking to reporters near the site of encounter, DIG Rajouri-Poonch range Vivek Gupta said that militants involved in the attack on security forces were in the area for two to three months.
He said 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 terrorists attacked a party that was part of CASO..
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.”
Gupta 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 added.
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 militants were getting any local support.
Gupta said that the operation is being conducted with a certain strategy and “in previous operations too in these belts, they took certain time but we were successful in eliminating militants”.