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Poonch military operation enters day 16: forces bust hideout, recover arms

Armed forces have busted a militant hideout that led to the recovery of some arms and ammunition during a search operation in Bhatti Durian forest in Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch district, officials said.

The operation in Bhatti Durian in Mendhar, along with Surankote forest in Poonch and Thanamandi in Rajouri, continued for the 16th day on Tuesday to trace a group of militants who attacked Army search parties on October 11 and 14, killing nine soldiers.

A Pakistani militant, who was shifted from the Kot Bhalwal Central Jail Jammu to Mendhar on police remand for questioning in connection with the ongoing operation, was killed when force personnel accompanying him to identify a hideout came under fire from militants on Sunday. There were claims on social media that the slain was used as a human shield.

A police official said the search parties comprising Army and police personnel busted a hideout at the recent encounter site in Bhatti Durian forest, leading to the recovery of an AK assault rifle, a magazine with 29 rounds, two grenades, and two detonators.

Some blankets, tiffins, two pairs of shoes, two syringes, and four biscuit packets were also found in the hideout, the official said, adding that the search operation is still continuing.

The officials said some gunshots were heard during the day, and smoke was spotted at different places within the besieged area.

Indian armed forces have cleared almost all the natural caves believed to be used by insurgents to hide but there was no trace of them so far, the officials said.

Over a dozen people, including two women, were detained for questioning after it came to light that they allegedly provided logistic support to the militants, they said, adding that most of them are being released as it was found that the support was not voluntary and was given at gunpoint.

Meanwhile, traffic movement between Mendhar and Thanamandi along the Jammu-Rajouri highway remained suspended as a precautionary measure for the 11th day on Tuesday in the wake of the ongoing operation.

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