Srinagar, Oct 22: An intermittent exchange of fire is on between security forces and the militants in Bhata Dhurian forests of Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir where a contact was established earlier Friday after nearly 40 hours, officials said.
The encounter broke out the dense forests of Nar in Bhata Dhurian village of Mendhar sub division on October 14 after the militants attacked a patrolling party of the army, leaving four soldiers, including a Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) dead.
Following the operation, reinforcements were rushed to the area and a massive search operation was launched to pursue the militant who police believe have been hiding in the woods for the past nearly two months.
Local witnesses told Greater Kashmir that the security forces were using high-calibre weapons to target the areas where the militants could have taken shelter. However, there has been no report of any militant casualties so far.
The police have appealed to the local people to stay indoors as the search operation gets underway. Announcements in this regard were made through public address systems of local masjids.
An official told Greater Kashmir that the contact was established with the militants today morning and an intermittent exchange of fire is on. Locals also confirmed hearing small arms’ fire besides loud explosions believed to have been triggered by the security forces.
So far, nine soldiers, including two JCOs have died in two separate gunfights in the district – the longest encounter in the Pir Panjal with the highest number of army casualties.
On October 11, five soldiers, including a JCO, were killed in a fierce gunfight with the militants in Dehra Ki Gali area on Rajouri-Poonch border. Soon, a massive search operation was launched to pursue the militants who have been exchanging fire and withdrawing back to the woods.
Several locals have been detained who were suspected of providing ration and logistical support to the militants.
(Sumit Bhargav contributed to the reporting from Pir Panjal).