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Poonch military operation continues for 10th day, militants remain elusive

The massive search operation against a group of pro-freedom militants continued for the tenth day on Wednesday in the dense forests of Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch and Rajouri districts.

Nine Indian army personnel were killed in two separate attacks last week in the region.

However, there was no contact with the militants as the joint search parties of the army and special operations group of local police moved cautiously in the dense forests of Mendhar and Surankote in Poonch and Thanamandi in Rajouri, clearing a vast area during the day, officials said.

Loud explosions and gunfire rattled Bhatta Durian earlier during the day which turned out to be the speculative fire used by the search parties to sanitize a suspected location deep inside the forest belt in Mendhar.

The army had on Tuesday intensified the operation against the militants in Bhatta Durian forest in Mendhar, where the locals were asked not to venture out of their homes.

Also on Tuesday, Indian Army Chief General M M Naravane had visited forward areas along the LoC to review the ground situation and ongoing counter-infiltration operations.

The operation in the forest areas in the twin border districts commenced on October 11 when insurgents ambushed a search party killing five soldiers including a Junior Commissioned Officer in the Surankote forest of Poonch before another gunfight in nearby Thanamandi on the same day. The terrorists fled both places after the encounters.

On October 14, the militants struck again and killed four soldiers including a JCO in Nar Khas forest in Mendhar as the armed forces extended the cordon and search operation to neutralize the fleeing militants.

Drones and helicopters were pressed into service to assist the marching troops, which included para-commandos, in the jungle spread over nearly 8 km X 2 km area at a distance of four km from the Line of Control, the officials said.

The entire forest belt is still under a tight security cordon.

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