NIA team visits attack site, starts investigation; Relentlessly tracking hiding terrorists: Army
Jammu, Dec 22 : Amid deployment of additional forces to intensify massive cordon and search operation in the forest area of Rajouri-Poonch districts, where terrorists attacked two Army vehicles yesterday, Director General of Police R R Swain and Nagrota based 16 Corps Commander Lieutenant General Sandeep Jain on Friday rushed to spot to monitor the ongoing operations.
Officials told the news agency—Kashmir News Observer (KNO), that DGP Swain, Corps Commander and senior officers of intelligence agencies visited the attack site and also assessed the ground situation.
The field commanders briefed officers on combing operation, which was launched on December 20 evening to track down the heavily armed terrorists, who are still at large, taking advantage of difficult terrain and thick forest cover in the area after attacking two army vehicles in Thanamadi area of Rajouri that led to the killing of four soldiers and injuries to two others.
Sources said that the cordon and search operation began this morning after a night cordon in the area and the same was going on till last reports came in.
An aerial monitoring operation using helicopters is also being conducted, and sniffer dogs have been pressed into service to track down the hiding terrorists.
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) also visited the attack site and started a probe into Thursday’s incident.
The General Officer Commanding (GoC), XVI Corps, Lt Gen Sandeep Jain visited Ground Zero and reviewed the situation with top army and police officers, officials said.
“Indian Army and White Knight Corps salute the bravery and supreme sacrifice of four soldiers in Surankote yesterday while fighting the scourge of terrorism,” White Knight Corps, or XVI Corps, wrote on X.
A Jammu based defence spokesperson said that an operation was being conducted in general area DKG (Dera Ki Gali), Thanamandi, Rajouri, since last night. He added Security Forces continuously operating relentlessly pursuing remaining terrorists.
Senior army officials said that there are 100 plus intelligence based operations every day by the Indian army in twin districts with a success rate of 98 percent despite difficult jungle terrain, hostile weather. He added due to continuous and aggressive operations security forces killed 27 terrorists this year, including 20-25 of foreign origin.
However, other military sources indicated that Battle-hardened and possibly Afghanistan-trained terrorist cadres have spread in Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch and Rajouri areas. In the present operation, terrorists, whose number is believed to be between three and four, had taken positions atop the hill from where they targeted the Army vehicles, which had to slow down their speed at the blind curve and bumpy road.
“The terrorists seemed to have carried out a reconnaissance of the area and chose the spot where there were pits and mountains surrounding the spot,” sources maintained
People familiar with similar operations said that attack was carried out by the Lashkar-e-Taiba and the killing style suggests the terrorists have rich combat experience.
“A large number of Pakistan-trained foreign terrorists are present in this area and a few days back movement was reported here,” sources said. Pertinently, 21 soldiers lost their lives in four terror attacks in the last 26 months in Poonch. December 21 attack was the fourth major terrorist attack in Poonch in 26 months.
TIME LINE OF PAST ATTACKS:
October 11, 2021: Terrorists ambushed a team of the Army conducting a search operation in the Chamraid area of Poonch. Five soldiers including one JCO sacrificed their lives in the attack.
October 20, 2021: Six soldiers lost their lives in a terror attack during a search operation in Bhata Duriyan. The search operation was carried out by closing the Jammu-Poonch highway for one and a half months.
April 20, 2023: Terrorists first threw grenades and then started firing on an Army vehicle in Bhataduriyanin Poonch district. Five soldiers sacrificed their lives.
December 21, 2023: Four soldiers lost their lives and two others were injured in a terror attack in Dhera-Ki-Gali—(KNO)