Security forces on Thursday detained three more locals for sheltering militants as the anti-terror operation in Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch district continued for the 18th consecutive day, according to police sources.
The sources said the three locals, which include two brothers, were detained from the Bhatta Durrian area of Mendhar tehsil. So far, around 20 locals, including some women, have been detained during this operation.
Nine soldiers, including two JCOs, have been killed in this operation while two policemen and a soldier have sustained injuries.
The operation started on October 14 a group of soldiers challenged terrorists in the Dhera Ki Gali area. The operation was later extended to the Surankote area of Rajouri district where the presence of another group of terrorists was detected.
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.
Villagers living in Bhatta Durrian have been advised not to go into the forest area and also stop grazing their cattle.
Security forces, including the elite para commandos of the Army, are engaged in flushing out the hidden terrorists whose exact number is yet to be ascertained.
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.
(With IANS inputs)