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Rajouri-Poonch encounter: fresh fire exchange reported as fighting continues for 15th day

Heavy firing was reported from a forest area as a massive search operation to track down militants in Jammu and Kashmir’s twin border districts of Poonch and Rajouri entered the 15th day on Monday.

It was not immediately clear whether the firing in the Bhatti Durian forest was the result of a fresh contact with the militants, believed to be hiding in caves deep inside the forest, officials said.

Nine Army personnel including two JCO’s and an arrested Pakistani militant have been killed and three forces’ men injured since the commencement of the operation on October 11.

While five Army personnel were killed on the first day of the operation in the Surankote forest of Poonch, four other soldiers lost their lives in the Bhatti Durian area of Mendhar on October 14.

The Pakistani militant, who was shifted from Kot Bhalwal Central Jail Jammu to Mendhar on police remand for questioning in connection with the ongoing operation was killed when the forces accompanying him to identify a hideout came under fire from hiding terrorists on Sunday. There have been claims that the militant was used as a human shield.

Besides Surankote and Mendhar, the search operation also continued in the nearby Thanamandi forest in the Rajouri district.

The officials said Army helicopters made several sorties over the besieged forest area, while drones are also being used to keep tight surveillance to ensure that the terrorists are not able to flee.

Nearly a dozen persons including two women were also detained for questioning after it came to light that they allegedly provided logistic support including food and shelter to the militants, the officials said.

Traffic between Mendhar and Thanamandi along the Jammu-Rajouri highway remained suspended as a precautionary measure for the 10th day on Monday in the wake of the ongoing operation.

Rajouri and Poonch in Jammu region have witnessed a rise in infiltration attempts since June this year, resulting in the killing of nine militants in separate encounters.1m

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