The Army has retrieved the bodies of two more soldiers, including a Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO), while trying to track down terrorists in the forest areas of Jammu and Kashmir’s twin border districts of Poonch and Rajouri.
With this, a total of nine Army personnel, including two JCOs, have laid down their lives in the ongoing counter-insurgency operation that began in Surankote forests of Poonch on Monday and later spread to nearby Thanamandi in Rajouri and Mendhar in Poonch.
Officials said bodies of the JCO and the soldier were recovered near the spot of Thursday’s gunfight with terrorists in the Nar Khas forest in Mendhar, taking the number of Army personnel killed in the operation to four. Riflemen Vikram Singh Negi and Yogambar Singh, both from Uttarakhand, were confirmed dead earlier.
A Defence spokesman identified the JCO as Ajay Singh and another soldier as Naik Harendra Singh and said they were part of search operations launched by the security forces to flush out terrorists hiding in the densely forested area on Thursday.
“After a fierce firefight with terrorists, the communication with the two soldiers was disrupted. Relentless operations continued to neutralise the terrorists and to reestablish communication with them,” the spokesman said.
Earlier on October 11, five Army personnel, including a Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO), were killed when terrorists attacked a search party in Poonch’s Surankote forest. There was another exchange of fire between the Army’s search parties and the fleeing terrorists in the adjoining Thanamandi forest in Rajouri the same day but the ultras managed their escape.
“The presence of terrorists in the forest area connecting Poonch and Rajouri was observed two-and-a-half months ago and accordingly tactical operations were launched to track them down,” Deputy Inspector General of Police, Rajouri-Poonch range, Vivek Gupta told reporters.
He said the area is mountainous and the forest is dense, which makes the operation difficult and dangerous.
(With Agency inputs)