Two soldiers die in Poonch gunfight

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Express News Service

SRINAGAR: Days after five soldiers died in a gunfight with terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch, two army personnel, including a Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO), were killed during a fresh encounter with militants hiding in the same forest area of the border district on Thursday evening. 

Defence spokesperson in Jammu, Lt-Col Devender Anand, said there was a heavy exchange of fire between the militants and the army troops carrying out a counter-terror operation near Nar Khas forest area in Mendhar sub-division of Poonch. While the JCO was killed, the critically injured soldier was evacuated to a military hospital for specialised treatment but succumbed later. Additional army personnel were rushed to the area to tighten the siege and prevent the militants from escaping. “The operation was going on when reports last poured in,” the defence spokesperson said. 

Sources said the place where the encounter broke out is part of a forest area that runs through Dera Ki Gali in Surankote area in Poonch, where a fierce gunfight had taken place between terrorists and the army on Monday morning in which five soldiers, including a JCO, had been killed.

The militants had escaped from the area after the gunfight and were spotted by security personnel a few hours later in the forest area of Bhangai village in neighboring Rajouri district. A brief gunfight had taken place between the two sides before the militants again managed to escape deep into the dense forest rea.

Sources said a group of three-four militants, suspected to have infiltrated from across the border, are believed to be hiding in the area. The army has been using helicopters to track and pinpoint the movement of the terrorists.

Besides the gunfight in Poonch, five encounters have taken place in Kashmir this week in which eight militants, including a Jaish-e-Mohammad commander, were killed. There has been a surge in encounters after seven civilians, including three minority community members and a non-local street vendor, were shot dead by militants in Kashmir last week.



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