Amid tensions, army chief in Jammu to review security
Army chief Gen MM Naravane travelled to Jammu region on Monday to assess the security situation and operational preparedness of troops against the backdrop of tensions over targeted attacks on civilians and a string of terrorist strikes.
Naravane is visiting the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir at a time when nine soldiers have been killed in counterterror operations that began on October 11, the highest casualties suffered by the army within the span of a week in the region in recent years.
Two migrant workers were killed and another injured in an attack by terrorists in Kulgam district on Sunday, the latest in a string of targeted attacks.
A vendor from Bihar and a carpenter from Uttar Pradesh were shot dead on Saturday evening.
The army launched its operations to counter these attacks on civilians, which have resulted in the death of 32 people so far.
Five soldiers were killed in a fierce gun-battle during an operation at Chamrer in Surankote forest on Monday. Four more soldiers died in another gunfight at Nar Khas forest in Mendhar area of Poonch on Thursday evening.
An army spokesperson said on Twitter: “General MM Naravane #COAS is on a two-day visit to Jammu Region wherein GOC White Knight Corps will give an update on security situation and operational preparedness. #COAS will visit forward areas and interact with troops and commanders on ground.”
An army official said on condition of anonymity, “He will seek an update on the ongoing operations in Poonch area and visit forward areas to meet troops and get feedback from commanders.”
Jammu and Kashmir Police believe the terrorists have been hiding in jungles since August.
Another army officer said drones and a helicopter were being used in search operations in Nar Khas forest.
“Para action is on, but there is nothing conclusive so far. Drones and a helicopter are being used in Nar Khas but there is no breakthrough. The search operations are on in both the places—Nar Khas and Chamrer,” said the second Army officer.
“We suspect that there could be two groups [of terrorists] and one of them reached Chamrer on the way to Shopian via Pir Ki Gali, where they gunned down five soldiers,” the officer added.
“Now, such operations take time because the terrain is difficult. There is thick wild growth in the dense forest of Nar Khas where natural caves are there and visibility is also an issue,” he said.
The recent attacks on civilians are believed to be the handiwork of Laskhar-e-Taiba (LeT) fighters infiltrated across the Line of Control (LoC) in Poonch-Rajouri sector, security officials said. They said drones were used to drop Chinese-made pistols to overground workers of LeT and these weapons were used in the targeted killings