The standoff in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir, which entered its sixth day on Saturday, left nine soldiers dead. The death toll has risen after the bodies of Petty Officer and Joan were recovered from Mindar district of Poonch today.
Earlier, a large-scale search operation was launched in the forest areas of Poonch and Rajouri twin border districts of Jammu and Kashmir to track down the terrorists involved in the killing of army soldiers. Officials told CNN-News18 that gunshots were heard as joint military and police search teams resumed the operation in the Mindar district of Poonch. But they said it was not immediately clear if this was a speculative shooting by search teams or if new contact with the terrorists had been made.
The area is mountainous and the forests are dense, which makes the operation difficult and dangerous, according to officials. A vast forested area of Mindar has been under tight security since Thursday, when soldiers Vikram Singh Negi and Yogambar Singh, both from Uttarakhand, were killed in a confrontation with terrorists in Nar Khas forest.
Earlier on October 11, five military personnel, including a junior non-commissioned officer, were killed when terrorists attacked a search team in the Surankot Forest in Poonch. An exchange of fire took place between the army search teams and the fleeing terrorists in the neighboring Thanamandi forest in Rajouri on the same day.
Officials said that the entire jungle area from Mandhar to Thanamandi is still under strict cordon and a large-scale search operation is being conducted to neutralize the terrorists who are moving from one place to another trying to escape from the traction network. They said that traffic between Mandhar and Tanamandi along the Jammu-Raguri Expressway remained suspended for the second day in view of the ongoing operation.
Deputy Inspector General of Police in Rajouri Poonch district Vivek Gupta said on Tuesday that the terrorists involved in the attack on security forces in Poonch had been in the district for two to three months. Rajouri and Poonch in Jammu region have seen a rise in infiltration attempts since June this year, killing nine terrorists in separate encounters.
Meanwhile, a defense spokesperson said the remains of the two men, Naji and Singh, were flown to Uttarakhand in a service plane this morning after a wreath laying ceremony. He said the plane will arrive at Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun by 11.30 am.
From the airport, he said, the remains of the soldiers would be transported to their cities by land, and their last rites would be held in full military honor.
(with PTI input)