In a 24-hour-long encounter between security forces and terrorists in Rajouri, Jammu and Kashmir, two Pakistani terrorists were eliminated. The intense gunfight in the Kalakot forests of Rajouri resulted in the unfortunate demise of four Army soldiers yesterday, and another wounded soldier succumbed to his injuries today.
A Pakistani national named Qari, who was a high-ranking member of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, has been identified as one of the terrorists. His mission was to reignite terrorism in the region.
According to NDTV, the Defence Public Relations Officer (PRO) in Jammu described him as a specialist in IEDs, adept at operating and concealing himself in caves, and a skilled sniper.
"He received his training on the frontlines of Pakistan and Afghanistan. He is an esteemed leader of Lashkar-e-Taiba, a terrorist organization," the officer stated.
Over the past year, he and his group have been engaged in activities in Rajouri-Poonch. Furthermore, he is suspected to be the brains behind the Dangri and Kandi attacks.
According to insiders, an operation was initiated on Wednesday morning following an incident where a local Gujjar from Bajimal village was assaulted by terrorists after he refused to provide them with food.
The villagers relayed the incident to the security forces, which led to the commencement of a large-scale anti-terrorist operation in the region.
Utilising the landscape and woodland areas, militants launched an intense attack on military personnel, resulting in the death of four soldiers and injuries to two others.
To prevent any terrorists involved in the encounter from escaping, the highly forested area was sealed off overnight. Additional security forces were deployed to reinforce the containment.
High-ranking military officials are overseeing the operation. According to the army, terrorists have sustained injuries and are now encircled by soldiers in the woodland area.
At first, it was thought that two terrorists were engaged in the encounter, but due to the prolonged duration of the situation, officials now suspect that the number might be greater.
The fatalities included three special forces commandos, underscoring once again the frontline role officers often take in counter-terrorism efforts in Jammu and Kashmir.
This was demonstrated in September when a commanding officer, an army major, and a Deputy Superintendent of J&K police lost their lives during an anti-terrorism operation in the Kokernag forests of the Anantnag district.
The stretch of the Pir Panjal forest between Rajouri and Poonch had largely been devoid of terrorist activities since 2003. However, in 2021, terrorism resurfaced, resulting in numerous confrontations in the region.
Over the past two years, the area has seen the unfortunate demise of over 30 military soldiers.
In the majority of confrontations, terrorists have successfully evaded capture despite the fact that military personnel have been involved in extended operations lasting several weeks.
Over the past few years, the forest has posed a significant obstacle for security forces. Terrorists have been utilising the dense woodland to hide their locations, exploiting the terrain to their advantage.
Terrorists exploit the perilous terrains of mountains, the thick undergrowth of jungles, and the secluded alpine forests to conceal their locations.
Nishtha Anushree is Senior Sub-editor at Swarajya. She tweets at @nishthaanushree.
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