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Poonch attack: Nearly 30 people detained, search for terrorists continues amid high alert

Pankaj Prasad
Poonch attack
Poonch attack

A massive manhunt has been launched by the Army to nab the terrorists involved in ambushing an army truck in Jammu and Kashmir's Poonch.

A massive manhunt has been launched by the Army to nab the terrorists involved in ambushing an army truck in Jammu and Kashmir's Poonch and so far around 30 people have been detained for questioning. Officials gave this information on Sunday. Five army soldiers were martyred in this attack. Army's Northern Command Commander Lt Gen Upendra Dwivedi on Sunday said that necessary action is being taken against the terrorists responsible for the deadly attack on an army truck in Bhata Dhurian area of Jammu and Kashmir's Poonch district last Thursday. At the same time, after the attack, the Jammu-Poonch part of the National Highway was opened for vehicles on Sunday.

The Northern Command of the Army, through its official Twitter handle, shared details of Lt Dwivedi's visit to the 'Command Hospital' in Udhampur, where he interacted with the jawan injured in the terrorist attack. Two pictures were also shared with this tweet. Five soldiers were martyred in the attack on the army truck, while another soldier was injured. At the time of the attack, the truck was carrying food and drink to a nearby village for Iftar. The Commander of the Army's Northern Command had visited the spot on Saturday.

Bhata Dhurian is a forested area and a preferred area for terrorists to infiltrate from across the Line of Control as the area is surrounded by dense forests and caves and the topography is also favorable for them. Dwivedi reviewed the security of border areas and operations to eliminate terrorists. The Northern Command tweeted that Dwivedi was informed about the action taken so far and called upon the soldiers to stick to their resolve.

Officials said that the search operation is going on in Poonch and Rajouri border districts amid high alert. He told that the traffic on the Rajouri-Poonch highway was disrupted since Thursday evening, which was restored on Sunday morning. He informed that the traffic was diverted on other routes to ensure security on this highway connecting these border districts with Jammu. People passing by the site of the attack said that they saw three bullet marks on the sign board put up by the Border Roads Organization (BRO) and fruits and vegetables spread on the road in that part.

Officials said that 30 people have been detained for questioning so far. Official sources said, 'Those who have been detained include two couples, Iqbal and his wife Mudifa and Salman Din and his wife Rashida, residents of Degwar in Poonch. He told that the investigation of the case is going on. It is noteworthy that the soldiers killed in the attack were in the Rashtriya Rifles and were deployed for anti-terrorist operations.

Sources had told earlier that it is suspected that the attack was carried out jointly by a group of three to four terrorists. He told that possibly the terrorists had spent more than a year in Rajouri and Poonch and had complete knowledge of the area. It is said that the Jammu and Kashmir Ghaznavi Force (JKGF) is active in the area and its commander Rafiq Ahmed alias Rafiq Nai is a resident of the area. Sources said that at present three-four terrorists are active in the area.

Officials said the terrorists who ambushed the army truck used steel core bullets capable of penetrating the armor shield and decamped with the weapons of the soldiers. He said a 'sniper' is believed to have targeted the truck from the front, while other terrorists opened fire and lobbed grenades from the other side. Officials said experts from various agencies, including the National Security Guard (NSG) and the National Investigation Agency (NIA), have visited the spot in the last two days to get an accurate picture of the deadly attack.

Meanwhile, members of the Gujjar and Bakarwal communities on Sunday met the army unit located in Akhnoor sector and expressed solidarity with the security forces. Mohammad Akram, leading a 113-member delegation of the community, appealed to Defense Minister Rajnath Singh to give a free hand to the army to counter terrorism being spread from across the border.

Akram told reporters, “We came from Banihal tehsil to Akhnoor in Ramban district 25 years ago when militancy was at its peak and then the army helped us and made sure we did not face any problem. We strongly condemn the attack on the jawans and our community stands with our soldiers.

He said that terrorists are trying to disturb the peaceful atmosphere of Jammu and Kashmir from Pakistan side and they should be dealt with strictly. He said, 'We appeal to Defense Minister Rajnath Singh to give a free hand to the army to deal with terrorism.' The defense spokesperson thanked the community and said that the biggest victims of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism are the Gujjar and Bakarwal community.