Poonch encounter enters fifth day; two jawans injured

5 January 2009
The Hindustan Times

Jammu: Two jawans were injured as the intense gunbattle between security forces and militants entered the fifth day on Monday in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir. Army troops fired rockets and mortars targeting the militants' cave hideouts in Bhati Dhar forest area near the Line of Control in Mendhar tehsil of Poonch district, defence sources said. Army, along with special forces and commandos of the state police force, is planning conducting surgical operations to destroy the hideouts and neutralise the terrorists, who have taken positions in natural cave-type fortified bunkers in the area in the last 90 hours, they said. During the gunbattle, which resumed this morning, huge smoke clouds was seen in and around the caves in which militants have taken shelter, after rockets and mortars were fired, they said, adding that two jawans received minor splinter injuries in the operation. Despite heavy fog and poor visibility hampering the operation, 'a major assault has been launched today morning to destroy the cave hideouts', a defence source said. Over 10 militants are hiding in the area and intercepts decoded have revealed that some top commanders of Jaish-e-Mohammad, al Badr and Lashker-e-Taiba were holed-up inside the hideouts, it said. Seven persons, including three security men - JCO Subedar Rakesh Kumar, Naik P K Singh and SPO Naresh Kumar - and four militants were killed in the operation which began on the New Year's day.