Terrorist attack in JK's Kathua claims lives of 4 soldiers, 6 injured

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Army personnel arrives near the site of the ongoing encounter between security forces and terrorists at Saida Sukhal village in Hiranagar sector of Kathua district, Wednesday, June 12, 2024.

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Kathua/Jammu: Terrorists ambushed an army truck in remote Machedi area of Jammu and Kashmir's Kathua district killing four personnel and injuring six others, officials said on Monday.

The attack occurred when terrorists targeted the Army vehicle with a grenade and gunfire during a routine patrol on the Machedi-Kindli-Malhar road near Badnota village in Lohai Malhar, approximately 150 km from Kathua town, at around 3:30 pm, they said.

It is the second major attack in Kathua district within one month, following a similar confrontation on June 12 and 13 that left two terrorists and a CRPF jawan dead.

After the ambush on Monday, the terrorists fled into the nearby forest as the army, assisted by police and paramilitary personnel, retaliated.

An exchange of fire between the terrorists and security forces ensued, with reinforcements quickly dispatched to the area to neutralise the attackers - believed to be three in number and heavily armed - who may have recently infiltrated from across the border.

Director General of Police R R Swain is personally overseeing the anti-terrorist operation in the dense forest area, connected to Basantgarh in Udhampur district, where several encounters have occurred in the past.

The forest area is connected to Basantgarh in Udhampur district. A village defence guard Mohd Sharief was killed in an encounter with terrorists on April 28  in Panara village of Basantgarh.

The officials said there were apprehensions that this route was used by terrorists to reach the hinterland after they managed to sneak in from across the border.

The army vehicle, carrying ten occupants, bore the brunt of the attack, resulting in fatal injuries to four soldiers.

The Jammu region, known for its peaceful atmosphere, has been shaken in recent months by a series of ambushes and attacks by terrorists, particularly in the border districts of Poonch, Rajouri, Doda, and Reasi.

The recent escalation in terrorist activities has been attributed to attempts by Pakistani handlers to reignite terrorism.

Security agencies have been on high alert following a recent ambush in the Gandoh area of Doda district, where three foreign terrorists were killed in a gunfight on June 26.

An army camp in the Manjkote area of Rajouri district was targeted in a firing incident, resulting in injuries to a soldier.

One of the most tragic incidents occurred on June 9 when terrorists attacked a bus carrying pilgrims from the Shiv Khori temple in Reasi district, claiming the lives of nine persons and injuring 41 others.

These incidents follow a pattern of escalating violence in the region, with previous attacks on security vehicles, search parties and military convoys resulting in casualties among both civilians and security personnel.

Earlier in May, terrorists ambushed an Indian Air Force (IAF) convoy in Poonch district, killing a soldier and injured several others.

The attackers were believed to be the same group of terrorists who carried out an ambush on troops in adjoining Bufliaz on December 21 last year that left four soldiers dead and three others injured.

The Bufliaz ambush came weeks after a major gunfight in the Dharmsal belt of Bajimaal forest in Rajouri that left five Army personnel, including two captains, dead.

Two terrorists, including a top commander of LeT identified as Quari, were also killed in the two-day long gunfight.

Quari was said to be the mastermind behind several attacks, including the killing of 10 civilians and five Army personnel in the district.

The stretch between Dhera Ki Gali and Bufliaz on the boundary of Rajouri and Poonch is densely forested and leads to Chamrer forest and then Bhata Dhurian forest, where five soldiers were killed in an ambush on an Army vehicle on April 20 last year.

In May last year, five more Army personnel were killed and a major-rank officer was injured in Chamrer forest during an anti-terrorist operation. A foreign terrorist was also killed in the operation.

In 2022, five Army personnel were killed when terrorists carried out a suicide attack on their camp at Pargal in Darhal area of Rajouri district. Both the terrorists involved in the attack were eliminated.

In 2021, nine soldiers were killed in two separate attacks by terrorists in the forested region. While five Army personnel, including a junior commissioned officer (JCO), were killed on October 11 in Chamrer, a JCO and three soldiers were killed on October 14 in a nearby forest.

Despite these adversities, security forces remain vigilant in their efforts to combat terrorism and safeguard the residents of Jammu and Kashmir, officials said.

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