Poonch: Security Forces Chalk Out Strategy For Final Burst

7 January 2009
The Indian Express

Jammu: Top Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Toiba commanders were still holding up inside the Batidhar forest, where militants and security forces have been exchanging heavy fire for the past eight days. Official sources said the security forces have evolved an operation strategy to eliminate the terrorists and were expected to execute the same in a couple of days. They said both sides exchanged heavy fire on Wednesday morning, adding that firing from inside the forest confirmed that several terrorists were still in their hideouts. Senior defence officials said Army troops and personnel of Jammu and Kashmir Police’s Special Operation Group have started sustained search operations to locate militant hideout in different parts of the Batidhar forest, which spreads over a 6 km area, and just a few kilometers from the Line of Control. However, the operation against the terrorists, who are believed to be holding up inside caves, has been hampered by harsh weather conditions. Besides, the heavy rain and fog, overcast conditions were also hampering the operation. Brigadier General Staff of 16 Corps Gurdeep Singh said, “There has been firing from the hideouts, which indicates that some militants are still hiding. However, search operations to locate them are continuing and the security forces will get them.” PRO (Defence) S N Acharya said “the holed up militants fired two times from different locations inside the forest on Wednesday. The holed up militants seem to be from Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) as per intercept received by Army”. “The operation is going on well and due care is being taken to avoid casualty. The militants are using caves with rocks around them as hideouts. There are no concrete bunkers inside the forest. The Security Forces recovered radio sets, some ammunition and GI sheets (used for covering the openings of hideouts) also from the site,” Acharya said. He added that “forested terrain and heavy fog are major constraints in this operation. The exact number of the militants is not known. The operation will continue till the elimination of all the militants.”