J&K Poonch encounter: Army death toll reaches 9; operation continues
The Indian Army death toll in the ongoing search operation in Jammu and Kashmir's Poonch district has now reached nine as the bodies of two more soldiers were recovered on Saturday. Four Indian Army soldiers had been missing since Thursday after an encounter erupted near the Bhatta Durian village in Poonch during the search operation to flush out terrorists hiding in the forests.
Indian Army PRO Lt Colonel Devender Anand said the bodies recovered Saturday were identified as those of Subedar Ajay Singh and Naik Harendra Singh. Their bodies were reportedly found in the Nar Khas forests in the Mendhar area. The bodies of two others—riflemen Vikram Singh Negi and Yogambar Singh—were recovered Friday. Lt Colonel Anand said they were part of the Poonch search operation.
Talking about the martyred soldiers, the Lt Colonel said, "Subedar Ajay Singh and Naik Harendra Singh were killed in action in the fierce fight, and their bodies were recovered on Saturday evening."
The Indian Army launched a massive search operation on Tuesday in the forests of J&K's border districts—Poonch and Rajouri—after five personnel were killed by terrorists in the Surankote area of Poonch district. The Army suspects that the same terrorist group was involved in Thursday's encounter. "Relentless operations continued to neutralize the terrorists and re-establish communication with the soldiers," Army PRO Anand said.
Citing sources, The Indian Express reported that the terrorists involved in the gun battle with the Army were part of a heavily armed group from Pakistan. The group has engaged in three gun battles with the Army since Monday, the report said. As the operation entered the sixth day on Saturday, the Indian Army reportedly used helicopters and drones to spot the terrorists.
The last time the Indian Army incurred such heavy loss of personnel in Poonch was in 2004. In 2004, a terrorist ambush in Poonch had killed four Indian Army soldiers and injured three others.