5 Jan : At least 10 militants are believed to be holding out in concrete bunkers by reinforcing the existing natural caves, as their encounter with the security forces in Poonch district of J&K entered the fifth day on Monday during when two jawans were injured.
An intense gunbattle continued with Army troops firing rockets and mortars targeting the militants’ cave hideouts in Bhati Dhar forest area near the Line of Control (LoC) in Mendhar tehsil of Poonch district, defence sources said.
The sources said over 10 militants are hiding in the area and intercepts decoded have revealed that some top commanders of Jaish-e-Mohammad, al Badr and Lashker-e-Taiba were among those holed up in the natural cave type fortified bunkers.
During the gunbattle, which resumed on Monday morning, huge smoke was seen billowing from in and around the caves in which militants have taken shelter, after rockets and mortars were fired, the sources said, adding that two jawans received minor splinter injuries in the operation.
Despite heavy fog and poor visibility hampering the operation, "a major assault has been launched today morning to destroy the cave hideouts", a defence source said.
Army, along with special forces and commandos of the state police force, is planning conducting surgical operations to destroy the hideouts and neutralise the terrorists.
Apart from Romeo Force’s 29th unit, 26 Rashtriya Rifles and Special Operation Group of Jammu and Kashmir police, authorities have rushed para units of special forces to the area besides some additional troops, the source said.
Three security men — JCO and four militants have been killed so far in the encounter that began on the New Year’s Day."We will not allow them (the militants) to escape from the spot. The operation will finish after the recovery of their bodies," the sources added.
Army chief General Deepak Kapoor said the personnel engaged in the operation were deliberately stretching the fight to ensure less casualties among their ranks.
"The operations against those terrorists are very much on. Army is trying to ensure that we do not suffer too many of our own casualties. Hence deliberate operations are being carried out. And we are hopeful that we will be able to close in on those terrorists soon," Kapoor told reporters in New Delhi on the sidelines of a function.