Gunfight in Doda a day after attack in Kathua | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Gunfight in Doda a day after attack in Kathua

By, Jammu/new Delhi
Jul 10, 2024 02:54 PM IST

An encounter between security forces and terrorists in Doda, J&K, followed an attack in Kathua. President and Centre call for a strong response.

An encounter broke out between security forces and terrorists in Doda district of Jammu & Kashmir on Tuesday, a day after terrorists killed five army personnel in an ambush in the nearby Kathua region, with President Droupadi Murmu and the Centre calling for a befitting reply to the attack.

An encounter is underway between terrorists and Security personnel, in Doda on Tuesday. (ANI)
An encounter is underway between terrorists and Security personnel, in Doda on Tuesday. (ANI)

According to police officers, the army launched a search operation in Goli-Gadi forest on Sunday after receiving inputs about the presence of terrorists in the area.

“ The terrorists fired upon the security forces during the search operations on Tuesday, resulting in a gunfight,” a police officer said on condition of anonymity, adding that “two-three” terrorists were believed to be trapped in the area.

The operation was underway at the time of going to print.

The Doda gunfight erupted a day after terrorists lobbed hand grenades and opened fire with automatic weapons at an army truck passing through Badnota village,around 250 km away from the Doda gunfight site. Naib Subedar Anand Singh, Havaldar Kamal Singh, Rifleman Anuj Negi, Naik Vinod Singh and Rifleman Adarsh Negi — all residents of Uttarakhand — were killed in the ambush. Five army personnel were also injured in the attack, which shattered the calm in a relatively quiet area of the Union territory at a time of heightened tension. The terrorists, believed to be two-three, then fled the scene.  Kashmir Tigers, a proxy of the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorist group, has claimed responsibility for the attack.

President Murmu, the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, extended condolences to the families of the deceased personnel and called for “firm” counterterrorism measures. 

“The attack on a convoy of Army personnel in Kathua district of Jammu and Kashmir by terrorists is a cowardly act that deserves condemnation and firm countermeasures,” the President wrote on X. “My sympathies are with the families of the bravehearts who laid down their lives in this ongoing war against terror in its all forms. I pray for the speedy recovery of those injured.”

Defence secretary Giridhar Aramane said the killing of the five army personnel “will not go unavenged”.

“Their selfless service to the nation will always be remembered & their sacrifice will not go unavenged, and India will defeat the evil forces behind the attack,” Aramane was quoted as saying in a post on X by the defence ministry’s principal spokesperson.

Defence minister Rajnath Singh said counterterror operations were underway in the region and the army was determined to restore peace. 

“My deepest condolences to the bereaved families, the Nation stands firm with them in this difficult time. The Counter Terrorist operations are underway, and our soldiers are determined to usher in peace and order in the region,” he wrote on X.

Joint teams of the army, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and J&K Police launched a massive search operation in Kathua and also pressed helicopters, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and sniffer dogs into service to locate the terrorists, officers aware of the details said.  

“A massive joint search operation has been launched by the army, special operation group of the Jammu and Kashmir Police and CRPF in Machhedi, Badnota, Kindli and Loi Malhar villages? to track down the terrorists responsible for the attack on the army truck,” a second police officer said, requesting anonymity.

Officers aware of the details said the search teams were moving cautiously due to the topography of the region. “The area is hilly with dense forests. The security forces are moving cautiously into the woods to trace and eliminate the attackers,” the officer added.

Director general of police (DGP) RR Swain conducted an aerial survey of the area and reviewed the ongoing operations, the officer said.

“Efforts are on to track down and neutralise the terrorists. The joint search parties have fanned out from all sides,” another police officer said.

The perpetrators of the Kathua attack are believed to have recently infiltrated into the Union territory from across the international border, HT has learnt.

According to officers aware of the details, the terrorists behind the ambush were also linked to the April 28 Basangarh attack, in which village defence guard Mohammad Sharief was killed.  A team of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) reached the ambush site on Tuesday to extend support to the police in its investigation, officers aware of the matter said. People aware of the matter said that the agency was likely to take over the probe into the incident by next week. Officials familiar with the development said that the federal anti-terror agency will also “look for a pattern and common links in terror attacks on the security forces and civilians in Jammu region since January last year”.

Terror activity in areas south of the Pir Panjal mountains, including the Rajouri and Poonch sector, has spiked during the last two years. To deal with this resurgence of terror, the army earlier took a raft of measures, including sending more troops to the Rajouri-Poonch sector, reorienting its units operating there, and strengthening the intelligence network for conducting counterterror operations effectively.

Security officials have also red-flagged an apparent shift in strategy by terrorists from across the border. In July 2023, HT reported that Jammu, Rajouri, Poonch and Reasi were fast becoming clear targets for Pakistan-based terror groups, and security forces were “recalibrating their responses”.

Seven soldiers were killed in counterterror operations in the Kashmir Valley last year compared to 20 in the Rajouri-Poonch sector. A total of  71 terrorists were killed in J&K in 2023, including 51 in the Kashmir Valley and 20 in the Rajouri-Poonch area.

The Kathua attack came on the heels of twin encounters in the Kulgam district of Kashmir, in which six terrorists and two soldiers were killed. The encounters began on Saturday and concluded on Sunday.

After Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his council of ministers took oath early last month, the Jammu region was rattled by four back-to-back terror attacks in as many days. Home minister Amit Shah last month directed the administration and security forces in Jammu & Kashmir to adopt similar tactics in Jammu region as they did in Kashmir to contain terrorism.

On June 9, armed terrorists attacked a pilgrims’ bus in Reasi leaving nine people dead and 42 others injured. The bus was returning from Shiv Khori shrine to Katra.

On June 26, three terrorists were killed after a gunfight broke out between terrorists and security forces in the Gandoh area of Doda district. 

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