Army officer, 10 terrorists killed in Poonch encounters
10 December 2001
The Daily Excelsior
RAJOURI: After a lull of about a week, troops eliminated 10 hardcore terrorists of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) outfit including five infiltrators but lost a young Lieutenant in two operations across the border district of Poonch today. A patrol party of army soldiers noticed an infiltration attempt by a group of terrorists on the Line of Control (LoC) in Barhut village of Shahpur sector in Poonch early today and asked the infiltrators to surrender, official sources said. However, they added, the terrorists numbering between six to eight opened firing and launched grenade attacks on the army personnel, who fired back. A heavy exchange of gun-fighting started between two sides at about 0530 hours today and continued for more than three hours. Initially, two ultras were gunned down by army while others fled to a surrounding forest area. They were followed by the security personnel and two more ultras were eliminated. Other terrorists escaped and hadnít been traced till this evening. Troops continued a search operation to trace the fleeing ultras and kill them. No casualties were reported on army side in the operation. Four AK rifles alongwith magazines, ammunition, eight grenades and other explosive devices were recovered from the scene of encounter, the sources said. Identity of the slain terrorists couldnít be established immediately. All of them were stated to be the foreign mercenaries. A letter head recovered from the scene of encounter indicated that the ultras had their affiliation with Jaish-e-Mohammed outfit. Bodies of the slain ultras have been handed over to local police for identification. Meanwhile, another encounter took place between army and the terrorists at village Harni in general area of Mendhar tehsil in Poonch district this afternoon. In this encounter, a patrol party of 20 Sikh Regiment was ambushed by a big group of about a dozen terrorists in Harni. Army jawans replied the firing. Sources said the terrorists had the advantage of having taken positions atop a hilly area. In the resultant operation, a young army officer Lt Gurbinder Singh sacrificed his life. The terrorists fled away after killing the officer. Re-enforcement of army and police rushed to Harni after getting a report of the encounter. Troops have launched a manhunt for the killers but till late tonight the latter remained untraced. Body of the deceased army officer was shifted to a nearby army camp and will be sent to his native town tomorrow morning. Killing of the Lieutenant came close on the heels of three Majors attaining martyrdom in separate operations in Doda, Rajouri and Poonch district in the encounters with army during last about 25 days. Yet another encounter took place between a group of ultras and a joint team of army and police at village Tola Mumtaz in Surankote tehsil of Poonch district this evening in which five militants were killed. Three of them have been identified as Muzamal, Mustafa and Sadiq, all Pakistanis. Identity of two others couldnít be established. All of them were JeM activists. Recoveries made from the scene of encounter included two AK rifles with 11 magazines and 203 rounds, two pistols with three magazines and 10 rounds, nine M16 rockets, two IEDs, three electronic detonators, eight grenades, two UBGLs and 12 audio cassettes.