Jammu and Kashmir Special Operations Group (SOG) personnel patrol in Poonch forests (ANI)
JAMMU: Security forces extended the ongoing search for a group of terrorists to the Khabla forest in Rajouri district of Jammu & Kashmir following information about their suspected presence in the area as the counter-insurgency operation entered its 27th day on Saturday.
Vehicular traffic from Thanamandi to Rajouri was suspended in view of the cordon-and-search operation in Khablan and other nearby villages in the district. Earlier, the search was limited to the Surankote and Mendhar forest areas in Poonch district and Thanamandi in Rajouri district. The search operation was launched Friday night and the road was closed to traffic early Saturday morning.
“The search team also fired a few rounds, the operation is still on,” sources said. While the police and the Army maintained that no contact had been made with the suspected terrorists, unconfirmed reports stated that one terrorist had been neutralised.
During the almost month-long search operation, nine soldiers, including two JCOs, have been killed in two separate encounters — in Surankote forest on October 11 and in Mendhar forest on October 14. A Pakistani terrorist, Zia Mustafa (detained in Kot Bhalwal Central Jail, Jammu), who was taken to Mendhar on police remand to identify the hideout in the area, was killed while two security personnel accompanying him were injured in Bhatti Durrian forest in Mendhar when they came under fire from terrorists on October 24. Security forces had neutralised one terrorist in a gunfight in Thannamandi area of Rajouri district on September 12.