Heavy firing resumed in a forest in Jammu and Kashmir's Poonch district today as the army moved in to hunt down terrorists that have been hiding in the area for the past 12 days. The encounter, which is one of the longest anti-terrorist operations in recent times, has seen fierce fighting between the security forces and terrorists, who have been intermittently firing and withdrawing back into the densely forested area.
Nine soldiers including two army officers died in action since the encounter started nearly two weeks ago.
Since morning today, heavy gunfire and loud explosions were heard after a lull of over 36 hours. On Wednesday, announcements were made from mosques asking people to stay indoors. Villagers were also asked not to let their livestock out.
The announcement was a clear indication that the army may be preparing a major assault on the terrorists.
The protracted encounter with the terrorists holed up in the jungle suggests that they are well-trained and are believed to have set up hideouts deep inside the jungle.
In the first brush with the terrorists, five soldiers, including a Junior Commissioned Officer or JCO, were killed in action on the night of October 11 in Dera ki Gali area of Poonch. The terrorists eventually retreated to Mendhar side of the forest, where four soldiers were killed in action on October 14.
On Tuesday, Army chief General MM Naravane visited Poonch and reviewed the security situation. This was for the first time the army chief visited an encounter site in Jammu and Kashmir.