Terrorists from a sleeper cell are likely to be taking part in an encounter in Poonch, Jammu and Kashmir, which is on its 16th day. Nine soldiers have been killed over the last two weeks in what has turned into one of the longest encounters the country has seen.
On October 11, five soldiers were killed in action in Dera Ki Gali in Poonch. Three days later, another four soldiers were killed in action in Mendhar.
Sources indicate that the terrorists involved are part of a sleeper cell that has been dormant in the Valley for years. The cell has been activated now, at a time when the number of terror attacks has dropped in the Kashmir Valley.
The site of the encounter is 20 km from the Line of Control leading Army sources to believe that the encounter is not the result of a recent infiltration.
Over the last several days, the army has pushed in a chunk of resources. Drones and helicopters were pressed into service on Day 13 of the operation. Villagers in the area have been asked to stay home.
Sources in the security forces have indicated that this has been one of the longest and toughest operations. The thick forests have made drone operations difficult and spotting terrorists from helicopters has not worked out.
On October 19, Army chief General MM Naravane visited Poonch to review the security situation.