A junior commissioned officer (JCO) was among five soldiers killed in an exchange of fire with heavily armed terrorists in a forested area at Surankote in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K)’s Poonch district on Monday amid a spike in violence in the region. The casualties are the worst security forces have suffered in anti-insurgency operations in J&K this year.
The exchange of fire was triggered during a cordon and search operation that was launched on Monday morning following intelligence inputs about the presence of around four to five terrorists in the forested area near the Line of Control (LoC) or the de facto border between India and Pakistan in J&K.
“In ensuing firefight during the ongoing encounter with terrorists, a JCO and four soldiers of Indian Army suffered critical injuries. The critically injured were evacuated to the nearest medical facility but they succumbed to their injuries,” said army spokesman Lt Col Devender Anand. He added additional reinforcements have been rushed to the area.
The identities of the slain soldiers were not immediately known. They lost their lives over a year after five security personnel, including a Colonel and a Major, were killed in an 18-hour anti-insurgency operation in the Handwara area of Kashmir Valley on May 2, 2020. The fresh casualties come after a series of targeted attacks left seven civilians dead in the Valley this month.
Security forces have had exchanges of fire with terrorists in Poonch’s Daddal, Pangai, and Karyote this year after a brief lull in violence amid a decline in infiltration from across the LoC.
J&K Police chief Dilbag Singh in August said infiltration resumed after a brief lull following renewed truce deal between the India and Pakistani directors general of military operations (DGMOs) in February. He added terror camps across the border remained intact.
The DGMOs on February 25 announced the two countries have agreed to strictly observe the ceasefire along the LoC.