A Lieutenant Colonel of Territorial Army was critically injured while another soldier received minor injuries on Sunday in an ongoing encounter in frontier district of Kupwara, officials said.
The encounter took place days after a Commanding Officer of 41 Rashtriya Rifles, Colonel Santosh Mahadik was killed at same place in the same encounter, an army official said.
A senior Army official of Kupwara-based 28 Infantry Division said heavily-armed militants opened fire on a search party led by Lt Colonel KS Natt of 160 Battalion of Territorial Army at 3.30 pm in upper reaches of Manigah forests where the operation is going on for the past 10 days.
"He received bullets on face. He was evacuated to Army Hospital Drugmulla," the official said, adding, "So far the condition of Natt is stable."
"We are shifting him Srinagar base hospital for treatment," he said, adding that another injured solider has been discharged after first aid.
The official said intermittent firing in the area is going on. "So far no militant has been killed. Terrain is very difficult and the operation will continue on Monday," he said. "Army's 41 RR, and Commandos of 4 PARA and 9 PARA are actively involved in operation which has been suspended for the night."
The official said "it is very difficult to use choppers in the operation."
"This is vast area with dense forests and the terrain is connected to Machil Sector," the official said. "Searches have also been started in Machil Sector from last five days. We have almost closed all exit and entrance points, but so far Army has not been able to kill or apprehend any militant during the past 10 days of intense searches in the forests."
Meanwhile searches are on in Bawan forests of Zachaldara Handwara, where suspected militants had opened fire on Army on Saturday evening.
"Search operation is on. So far there is no substantial headway," Superintendent of Police, Handwara, Ghulam Geelani told Greater Kashmir.
Residents of Manigah said heavy mortar shelling was going on in the area for the entire day.
They said people living in forest foot hills have also been asked to be cautions.