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

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

A clash broke out between security forces and terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir’s Doda district on Tuesday, a day after terrorists killed five army personnel in an ambush in the nearby Kathua region. President Droupadi Murmu and the Centre called for a befitting response to the attack.

On Tuesday, a confrontation between terrorists and security personnel took place in Doda. (ANI)

According to police officials, the army launched a search operation in the Goli Gadi forest on Sunday after receiving signals that terrorists were present in the area.

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“The terrorists fired at the security forces during the search operations on Tuesday, which resulted in a gunfight,” said a police officer who requested anonymity, adding that “two or three” terrorists were believed to be trapped in the area.

The operation was already underway when this article went to press.

The gunfight in Doda broke out a day after terrorists hurled hand grenades and opened fire with automatic weapons at an army truck passing through Badnota village, about 250 km from the site of the gunfight in Doda. 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 disrupted peace in a relatively peaceful part of the Union Territory at a time of heightened tension. The terrorists, believed to be two or three, subsequently fled the scene. Kashmir Tigers, a proxy of the Pakistan-based terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), has claimed responsibility for the attack.

President Murmu, the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, expressed his condolences to the families of the slain personnel and called for “stern” action against terrorism.

“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 strong counter-action,” the President wrote on X. “My condolences go out to the families of the brave ones who have laid down their lives in this ongoing war against terror in all its forms. I pray for the speedy recovery of the injured.”

Defense Minister Giridhar Aramane said the killing of the five soldiers “will not go unavenged.”

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

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said anti-terror operations were underway in the region and the army was determined to restore peace.

“My deepest condolences to the bereaved families, the nation stands with them in this difficult time. The counter-terror operations are ongoing and our soldiers are determined to bring peace and order in the region,” he wrote on X.

Joint teams of the Army, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and J&K police have launched a massive search operation in Kathua and have also deployed helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and sniffer dogs to track down the terrorists, officials privy to the details said.

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

Officers privy to the details said search teams were proceeding cautiously due to the topography of the region. “The area is hilly with dense forests. The security forces are cautiously entering the forest to track down and neutralize the attackers,” the officer added.

Director General of Police (DGP) RR Swain has taken an aerial survey of the area and assessed the ongoing work, the officer said.

“Efforts are underway to track down and eliminate the terrorists. Joint search operations have been spread from all sides,” said another police officer.

HT has learnt that the perpetrators of the Kathua attack recently entered the Union territory through the international border.

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

Terror activities in areas south of the Pir Panjal ranges, including the Rajouri and Poonch sectors, have increased in the past two years. To tackle this upsurge in terror, the army has earlier taken a series of measures, including deploying more troops to the Rajouri-Poonch sector, refocusing units operating there and strengthening the intelligence network to effectively carry out counter-terror operations.

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

Last year, seven soldiers were killed in counter-terror operations in the Kashmir Valley, 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. This year’s figures?

The Kathua attack followed two clashes in Kashmir’s Kulgam district in which six terrorists and two soldiers were killed. The clashes began on Saturday and ended on Sunday.

After Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his cabinet took oath early last month, the Jammu region was rocked by four consecutive terrorist attacks in as many days. Home Minister Amit Shah last month directed the Jammu & Kashmir government and security forces to adopt the same tactics in Jammu as they were using in Kashmir to contain terrorism.

On June 9, armed terrorists attacked a pilgrim bus in Reasi, killing nine and injuring 42. The bus was returning from Shiv Khori shrine to Katra.

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

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