Major killed, Col among 6 hurt in Mendhar gunbattle13 July 2010
The Daily Excelsior
JAMMU: A Major was killed while a Colonel and five other Army personnel were injured as two militants were believed to be killed in a fierce encounter at Beri Rakh forests in Mendhar tehsil of Poonch district tonight. The operation was going on as a group of four militants of Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) outfit were reported to be hiding in dense forests of Beri Rakh. Colonel Ajay Katoch, Commanding Officer (CO) of 37 Rashtriya Rifles sustained a gun shot in his neck while leading his troops from the front in the gun-battle against a group of four to six militants. Major Amit Thingay was seriously injured along with five other jawans but succumbed to his wounds while being evacuated to Command Hospital, Udhampur. Official sources have confirmed the killing of two hardcore militants so far, both of whom were believed to be Pakistanis. Romeo Force General Officer Commanding (GOC) Maj Gen KAS Bhullar was supervising operation against the militants on spot. It was exclusively reported by the Excelsior today that a group of about six militants has become active in Mendhar with their movement being observed by the people living in forward areas. Though there was no official confirmation, the group was reported to have recently infiltrated into this side from the Line of Control (LoC). The possibility of the militants being already active in Mendhar is also not ruled out. Army's PRO Lt Col Viplav Nath said Major Amit Thingay attained martyrdom in the gun-battle while some other jawans were injured. He said the militant casualties in the operation are being ascertained. The operation was going on. Sources said different teams of 37 Rashtriya Rifles had combed several areas of Mendhar, where the militants were reported to be hiding for past two to three days. However, a contact with the militants was established at 6 pm today in dense forests of Beri Rakh leading to a heavy exchange of gun-fighting. Sources said CO 37 RR Colonel Ajay Katoch and Major Amit Thingay along with five other jawans were injured in the operation. Major Thingay later succumbed to his injuries while condition of Colonel Katoch was stated to be stable. He has been admitted in Military Hospital, Rajouri. Five other Army jawans, injured in the operation, have been identified as Signalman Dinesh Kumar, Signalman Satinder Kumar, Naik Jasbir Singh, Sepoy Sunil Kumar and Rifleman Basharat Hussain. Condition of Signalman Dinesh Kumar was also reported to be critical. All injured Army personnel have been hospitalized. According to sources, at least two militants were reported to be killed in heavy retaliatory firing by the troops inside dense Beri Rakh forests. However, their bodies have not been recovered so far in view of darkness in the area. Searches in the forests will be resumed with the onset of dawn tomorrow. DIG Rajouri-Poonch range SD Singh, SSP Poonch Manmohan Singh and Additional SP Poonch Yougal Manhas have rushed to the spot. Police teams in Mendhar have already joined the search operation. Sources said Beri Rakh forests were being combed in the night to ensure that the militants didn't manage to give a slip taking cover of darkness. There were reports that all four to six militants were Pakistanis and part of LeT outfit. They were equipped with latest armoury. An Army jawan Naik Sudhir Radha was injured in a mine blast this afternoon when he was shifting from Sagar Post to Hans Post in Balakote area of Mendhar sector along with a Road Opening Party (ROP) of 5 Maratha. The injured has been hospitalized. Meanwhile, Rangers today once again opened firing at BSF's forward post of Chak Phagwari in Pargwal islands in Akhnoor sector. Few rounds were fired at the post this morning. However, there were no casualties or damage in the firing. Few days back, the Rangers had targeted Chak Phagwari post killing two BSF jawans and injuring a civilian. In retaliatory firing by the BSF, several Rangers were injured.