J&K Poonch encounter: 3 locals detained; operation enters day 7
The Jammu and Kashmir Police detained three locals on Sunday at Bhatta Durian in Poonch on the suspicion that they had provided logistical support to the terrorists involved in the latest Poonch encounter. Among those detained are a 45-year-old woman, Zarina Akhter, and her son Shafait (19). Meanwhile, the Army's operation against the terrorists continued in the dense forests of Rajouri and Poonch districts.
Police investigating detained individuals' role in helping terrorists
Reportedly, terrorists usually do not enjoy support from the local population in the region, which is mostly inhabited by Jammu region Muslims, Gujjars, Bakarwals, and Hindus displaced from Pakistan-Occupied-Kashmir (POK). However, rare cases of such support could not be ruled out, police sources told The Indian Express. The police are investigating whether the detained individuals provided support to the terrorists under coercion or voluntarily.
Terrorists came from POK: Report
The terrorists had reportedly entered India via POK two-and-a-half months ago. It is believed there were six to eight terrorists in the group. Notably, the group has been engaging in fierce gun battles with the Indian Army since last Monday.
Army's operations against terrorists entered day 7
Meanwhile, the Indian Army's operation to hunt down terrorists in the dense forests in the border districts of Poonch and Rajouri entered the seventh day on Monday. Fierce gun battles have reportedly continued through Saturday night and for an hour on Sunday. Notably, Army's para commandos, too, have joined the operation. A helicopter and drones have also been pressed into service for surveillance.
Dense forests, terrain making operation difficult: Army sources
Notably, the operation to flush out terrorists is ongoing in dense forests between Mendhar-Dehra Ki Gali-Thanamandi and Bhimber Gali in Poonch and Rajouri districts. Sources in the Army said the dense forests and treacherous terrain were impeding the operation. "The jungles are thick and the terrain difficult... The infiltrators are trained as they are moving tactically and firing only when required," an officer said.
What do we know about the operational area?
Talking about Bhatta Durian, the current operational area, an Army source said it was less than a square kilometer of thick pine forest with undergrowth and at least 10 km inside the Line of Control (LoC). One side of this area descends steeply into a nullah, the source added. Notably, this is the same area where four soldiers were killed on Thursday.
Soldiers failing to locate terrorists
The terrorists are reportedly taking advantage of the area as soldiers have not been able to locate them, reports said. The soldiers have also not been able to locate any hiding places of the terrorists.
Same group behind the attacks on Monday and Thursday: Army
The Indian Army launched a search operation Tuesday after five personnel were killed by terrorists in the Surankote area of Poonch district. During the operation, four more personnel were killed by the terrorists Thursday. The Army suspects the same group was involved in both terror attacks. However, there is no confirmation whether the group is operating as one or split up into small groups.
Some mistakes committed, but it happens sometimes: Officer
Nine soldiers have, so far, been killed in the Poonch operation, the highest casualty of the Indian Army in Poonch in recent times. An officer commented, "It looks bad, but it can't be avoided always. Some mistakes have been committed, but that, too, happens sometimes."
Army imposes stringent measures to nab terrorists
Citing sources, TIE reported that a tight security cordon had been put around the entire forest area from Mendhar to Thanamandi. Traffic has also been suspended on the Rajouri-Thanamandi-DKG-Buffliaz road and the Rajouri-Bhimber Gali-Surankote-Poonch road. Search teams were reportedly being sent to the area from several directions. Officials are confident they will catch the terrorists "in the next 24 hours by all means."