Poonch encounter enters day 5

Several militants of Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Toiba,holding up in concrete hideouts in Batidhar forest of Mendhar in Poonch.

Written by Aditya V Singh | Jammu | Published: January 4, 2009 12:34 pm

Several militants of Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Toiba,holding up in concrete hideouts in Batidhar forest of Mendhar in Poonch,continued to engage security forces in a fierce gun-battle for the fifth day on Sunday.

Inspector General of Police,Jammu Zone,K Rajendra Kumar said,“The encounter is going on and the Batidhar forest remains cordoned off from all sides.”

“Some top militants of Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Toiba are suspected to be taking shelter in concrete hideouts,built deep inside the forest area,” the IGP added.

One Special Police Officer (SPO) of J-K Police,Naresh Kumar,and a jawan of the Indian Army,Naik R K Singh,have been killed in the encounter so far. Four terrorists,too,have been killed.

One Junior Commissioned Officer Rakesh Kumar is also suspected to have been killed,though the Army authorities are still terming him missing.

Sources said that there was not much exchange of fire on Sunday owing to harsh weather conditions but a few underground concrete hideouts were destroyed with the security forces looking for the remaining hideouts in the forest.

Apart from Romeo Force’s 29th unit and 26 Rashtriya Rifles and Special Operation Group (SOG) of Jammu and Kashmir Police,the authorities have rushed para units of special forces to the area besides some additional troops,sources said.

Police have arrested a retired Assistant Sub-Inspector Muzaffar Shah from Bhati Dhar for helping the militants in taking shelter in the area,they said,adding that Shah had retired in 2003.

The operation started around 4 pm on January 1.

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