Kathua Terror Attack: 24 Locals Detained for Questioning; No Trace of Attackers

Terrorists attack police post in Udhampur

Srinagar: Considering the militants who ambushed an Army combat infantry truck in a remote area of Jammu and Kashmir’s frontier Kathua district early this week might have received logistics support from the locals, the security forces have detained over two dozen persons for questioning.

There has been no trace of the group of terrorists involved in the deadly attack that killed five soldiers and wounded five others in Kathua’s Badnote area on July 8 even as the massive joint Cordon-and-Search-Operation (CASO) launched by the Army alongside the J&K police, the CRPF and other Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs) in the wooded hills of Kathua to hunt them down continued on the third day on Wednesday.

A report from Udhampur said that the sentry at a police post in the district's Sang area opened fire towards a tree line after discerning suspicious movement. Udhampur’s SSP Joginder Singh said that with the arrival of reinforcements, the police have launched a search operation in the area. The Army too has been informed.

The Indian Army’s special forces and highly trained and fully equipped members of the J&K police’s counterinsurgency Special Operations Group (SOG) and other security forces had early Tuesday moved in a dense forest area of Kathua to chase terrorists involved in the previous day’s ambush. In the operation, the ground forces are being supported by their loyal canine companions from the dog squad, the Army combat helicopters and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) surveillance, the officials said.

The slain Army jawans were Naib Subedar Anand Singh, Havildar Kamal Singh, Naik Vinod Singh, Rifleman Anuj Negi and Rifleman Adarsh Negi- all from Uttarakhand. The Army sources said that the Bravehearts belonged to the 22 Garhwal Regiment and were being led by Junior Commissioned Officer (Naib Subedar) Anand Singh.

Meanwhile, a team of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Wednesday again visited the Badnote area, 152 km away from the district headquarters, where the Army vehicles came under a sneak attack while on routine patrolling along the Machedi-Kindli-Malhar Road on July 8 afternoon.

A police source in Kathua said that the Army and other security forces have been asked to show restraint while questioning the civilians detained in connection with the attack and handle the situation with utmost care as the death of three civilians allegedly due to torture in the Army’s custody following a similar attack took place in neighbouring Poonch district in December last year had pushed the government in an embarrassing situation and had to counter the political outcry by ordering a probe into the incident. Also, the civilian deaths had put the Army under uncomfortable scrutiny and its losing four of its men was overshadowed by the killing of the civilians in its custody.

Reports received from Kathua said that the hunt down for the terrorists behind the July 8 ambush continued despite the wooded hills spread over the districts of Kathua, Udhampur, Reasi and Doda receiving intermittent heavy rains making these slippery.

The Army and police sources in Jammu said that the assailants had used US-made M4 carbines in the ambush on the Army truck and while carrying out attacks on the security forces in the Jammu region earlier. The M4 carbine is a 5.56×45 mm NATO, gas-operated, magazine-fed carbine developed in the United States during the 1980s.

As this has been termed as alarming by the security forces officials, J&K’s DGP Rashmi Ranjan Swain had said last month that in order to take on separatist militants and their supporting foreign mercenaries more effectively, the J&K police is procuring the latest weaponry from Israel and Germany. He said, “We will be having the latest weapon system to counter our enemy. A new procurement of arms from Israel and Germany will give a boost to the police force's weaponry and also help towards tackling the enemy in a much better way". He had also said, "Terrorists can give us a leg cut but can’t defeat us."

Meanwhile, the search operation launched in Doda’s Goli-gadi forest area following a brief clash between militants and the security forces on Tuesday resumed at the first light on Wednesday after the J&K police and Army reinforcements joined the combat teams already on the job.

The officials said that operation had been suspended on Tuesday evening due to darkness and heavy rain in the area. They denied reports appearing in a section of media that two militants were killed by the security forces. They said that the two sides exchanged fire for some time, but the militants managed to escape into nearby thick woods, prompting the security forces to launch a search operation and ask for reinforcements.

The police sources in Doda said that initial reports had suggested that two militants were hit by bullets during the exchange of fire on Tuesday but there is no evidence that it did happen.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle )
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