4 soldiers killed, 3 injured as terrorists ambush Army vehicles in Poonch in J-K

Poonch/Jammu: Four soldiers were killed and three injured when heavily armed terrorists ambushed two Army vehicles in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday, officials said.

The vehicles, carrying the personnel to the site of a cordon-and-search operation, came under attack at a blind curve at Dhatyar Morh between Dhera Ki Gali and Bufliaz under the jurisdiction of Surankote police station around 3.45 pm, according to officials.

Jammu-based defence PRO Lt Col Suneel Bartwal said a joint search operation was launched in the general area of Dhera Ki Gali in the Thanamandi-Surankote region of Poonch district Wednesday night based on “hard intelligence” about the presence of terrorists and an encounter ensued there.

As additional forces were moving to the site, the terrorists fired upon the Army vehicles — a truck and a Gypsy.

The troops swiftly responded to the attack, the defence spokesperson said.

In the ongoing operation, four soldiers were killed and three injured, the officials said.

The operation is in progress and further details are being ascertained, they added.

Disturbing images and videos emerging from the site showed blood on the street, broken helmets of soldiers and shattered windscreens of the two Army vehicles.

The officials have not ruled out the possibility of the soldiers engaging in hand-to-hand combat with terrorists during the intense confrontation.

The officials said there was a possibility that terrorists had walked away with arms of the targeted soldiers.

As the operation continues, authorities are diligently working to gather more information and bring an end to the threat posed by terrorists in the region.

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

A top commander of Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) Quari, who masterminded several attacks, including the killing of 10 civilians and five Army personnel, and his associate were killed in the two-day-long encounter in November.

The stretch between Dhera Ki Gali and Bufliaz on the boundary of Rajouri and Poonch districts 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 this year.

In May, 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.

This year, Rajouri, Poonch and Reasi districts witnessed a series of encounters that left 54 persons, including 19 security personnel and 28 terrorists, dead so far, the officials said, ascribing the uptick in violence to “desperate attempts from across the border” to revive terrorism in the region.

While 31 persons, including 10 terrorists and 14 security personnel, were killed in Rajouri, 15 terrorists and five security personnel were killed in Poonch district. Three terrorists were killed in Reasi district.

Most of the terrorists were killed while attempting to sneak into this side of the border, the officials said.

Earlier in October 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.