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3 JeM militants killed in encounter near Jammu

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Two OGWs arrested; operation on as fourth militant suspected to be at large

Bann Toll Plaza: Three Jaish-e-Mohammed militants were killed on Friday in a fierce gunbattle with police at a toll plaza on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway here, officials said.

A group of three-four militants were intercepted at the Bann toll plaza, about 28 km from Jammu city, when they were trying to enter the Kashmir Valley in a truck (JK03F-1478), they said.

Police suspect the militants might have infiltrated through the International Border in Kathua district to carry out an attack.

One of the militants was killed in the ensuing gunfight while the others managed to escape to the nearby forest area, Director General of Police (DGP) Dilbag Singh said. He said a policeman was injured in the incident.

He said the militants belonged to Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM).

The truck driver and conductor were arrested, the DGP said.

The Jammu-Srinagar highway was closed and the entire forest belt was cordoned off. After a gunbattle, two more militants were killed.

Choppers, drones and sniffer dogs have been inducted into joint operations to track down the fourth militant as a massive search operation rages up, they said.

Six weapons, including a sniper rifle, and large quantity of ammunition and explosives have been recovered, the DGP said.

“The truck was stopped by our personnel for checking. As they were about to enter the truck, the terrorists opened fire and our jawans also retaliated. One of our jawans was injured in his arm due to a bullet, while a terrorist was killed on the spot,” the DGP said.

IGP Jammu Zone, Mukesh Singh told reporters that the truck was intercepted at the toll post at 5 am by a joint team of police and CRPF.

The truck was carrying polyvinyl and a cavity was created inside it to hide the militants, officials said, adding that the militants were armed with bullet-proof jackets.

The officials suspect that the militants might have planned to carry out an attack at vital installations as well as security camps along the nearly 300-km highway.

Bhom Raj, who is a constable with the Nagrota police station and was deployed for checking at the Bann Toll plaza, was injured in firing by the militants. He has been hospitalised.

“Around 5 am, we intercepted a truck (JK03F-1478) for a routine checking. The driver, along with two more persons, was in the front seat of the truck and told us that they are carrying medicine and other items to Kashmir. But we were not satisfied,” Raj, who is undergoing treatment at the Government Medical College (GMC) hospital here, said.

The police and the paramilitary personnel asked the driver and two others to remove the cover and open the door of the truck, he said.

“I started checking the vehicle and saw a blanket and shoes near the gate, when I peeped inside the middle door of truck, I grew suspicious. I thought the truck is fully loaded with white bags, how come blanket and shoes are there,” he said.

As soon as we removed the cover, some men, hiding in the cavity formed inside the truck, started firing at us, the policeman said.

“The paramilitary personnel retaliated and gunned down a terrorist. The militants jumped down into the gorge and disappeared in thick forest area,” he said.

He said there were three policemen, including an assistant sub-inspector (ASI) and four paramilitary personnel, at the check post but they were unarmed.

The L-shaped cavity was formed inside the truck to hide the militants and ferry them to Kashmir, officials said.

Meanwhile, senior police officials were at the spot to oversee the combing operations. All schools and colleges have been closed in Udhampur district as a precautionary measure.

In September last year, a truck loaded with cardboard material was intercepted during checking on the Jammu-Pathankot highway in Kathua district. Three militants, who were on the truck, were arrested and arms and ammunition, including four AK-56 rifles, two AK-47 rifles, six magazines and 180 rounds of ammunition, besides Rs 11,000 in cash, was seized.

In September 2018, three militants of JeM were killed and 12 security personnel, including three officers, injured in Reasi district after they fired on a police party at Jajjar Kotli in Jammu.

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