NEW DELHI, Jan 12: Terrorists attacked Army vehicles at Poonch in Jammu and Kashmir on Friday evening prompting the soldiers within to return fire. There are no reports of injuries or deaths so far. Reports indicate the terrorists may have escaped after the initial exchange of gunfire, which included bullets fired from a nearby hill in the Krishna Ghati area.
The Army has launched a search operation. “At around 1800 today, a security forces convoy of vehicles was fired upon by suspected terrorists from a jungle near Krishna Ghati (in) Poonch sector. No casualties to own troops. Joint search operations by Jammu and Kashmir Police and Indian Army in progress,” the Army said.
The attack comes as high-ranking officers, including Lieutenant General Upendra Dwivedi, the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief Northern Command, are in Poonch to evolve strategies to deal with frequent terror strikes.
This is the second terror attack on the Army in this region in the past few weeks. Four soldiers were killed and five soldiers were injured following an ambush of army vehicles in Poonch’s Dera Ki Gali last month. The attack on Friday evening in the district’s Krishna Ghati sector, was about 40 km from the last ambush location.
The Pir Panjal region – Rajouri and Poonch – were free from terrorism since 2003 but major attacks have resumed since October 2021. In the last seven months, 20 soldiers, including officers and commandos, have been killed. Over 35 soldiers have been killed in action in these areas in the past two years.
Army Chief General Manoj Pande on Thursday said India’s adversaries – seen as a reference to Pakistan – continue to play an “active role” in aiding terrorists in the Rajouri and Poonch areas. “In the last five to six months, in Rajouri and Poonch, there has been increase in terrorism. This is a matter of concern. If you see… before 2003 terrorism in that area was eradicated, and peace was there till 2017/18. But now, because of the situation normalising in the Valley, our adversaries are active there,” he said.
General Pande also shared a nine-point action plan to improve the situation in Rajouri, including enhanced intelligence gathering and better synergy with police and local security officials. The nine points outlined by the General also include an emphasis on outreach to local populations and respect for human rights, both of which are crucial messages in the light of the death of three civilians after they were detained for questioning following a the previous terror attack in Poonch.