Army intensify ops against militants in Poonch forests; appeal people to stay indoors

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BUNTY MAHAJAN

JAMMU, OCTOBER 19: A few hours after Army Chief, General M M Naravane, concluded his two day visit to Jammu division and returned to Delhi, Army troops started preparing to intensify their operation against militants suspected to be hiding in the forests of Bhata Durian area of Poonch districton Tuesday evening, appealing people to stay indoors along with their children and cattle.

The appeals were issued on loudspeaker from a local mosque asking people of Sarhuti, Nar and Bhata Durian to leave whatsoever work they were doing and move inside their houses along with their children and cattle. “All the people who are outside their houses, cutting grass or harvesting maize crop, are appealed to immediately return to their homes along with their children and cattle,’’ local villagers quoting the announcements made on loudspeaker of the local mosque said.

Official sources said that announcements were made to avoid collateral damage during the ongoing operation which has entered ninth day on Tuesday.

Nine army soldiers including two Junior Commissioned Officers have so far been killed in encounters with militants hiding in the  forests of Dehra Ki Gali on Thanamandi-Buffliaz Mughal road and Bhata Durian on the Bhimber Gali-Surankote road in border Poonch district since October 11 morning. While five soldiers including a JCO were killed at Chamrel near DKG on first day, other four soldiers including a JCO lost their lives on Thursday night in Bhata Durian forests.

Earlier, Army Chief on Tuesday visited forward areas in Poonch including Bhimber Gali and took stock of the ongoing operation against militants in nearby forests, as also operational preparedness of troops along the LoC. He had arrived in Jammu on Monday and during his stay, he was briefed about security scenario and operational preparedness of troops both along the LoC and in the hinterland by the General Officer Commanding of the White Knight Corps. During his visit to forward locations, he also interacted with the troops, sources said.