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JCO among 5 soldiers killed in Poonch encounter

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Jammu: Five Army personnel, including a Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO), lost their lives in a fierce gunfight with militants during an operation in Poonch district on Monday, officials said.

The operation was launched in a village close to Dera Ki Gali (DKG) in Surankote in the early hours “following intelligence inputs about the presence of terrorists who had infiltrated from across the Line of Control (LoC)”.

A defence spokesman said the militants opened heavy fire on search parties resulting in critical injuries to the JCO and four other personnel.

All the five soldiers succumbed to their injuries at a nearby military hospital where they were shifted from the scene of the gunfight, he said.

“The encounter with the terrorists was going on and further details are awaited,” the spokesman said in the evening.

The officials said there were inputs about the presence of a “group of heavily-armed terrorists in Chamrer forest after they managed to sneak from across the LoC”.

After the initial encounter, “the terrorists fled to nearby Bhangai village, which falls in Rajouri district, and an encounter is underway to neutralise the ultras,” they said, adding all possible escape routes have been plugged.

“The twin districts of Rajouri and Poonch in the Jammu region have witnessed a rise in infiltration attempts since June this year, resulting in the killing of nine terrorists in separate encounters,” officials said.

Three soldiers were also killed in the previous operations.

Meanwhile, the Jammu and Kashmir unit of Congress expressed grief and shock over the killing of five Army personnel in Poonch encounter and urged the BJP-led government to take effective measures to contain “Pakistan-sponsored terrorism” in the Union Territory.

J&K Pradesh Congress Committee (JKPCC) president G A Mir and other senior party leaders described the attack on the Army as a “cowardly act” and saluted the bravery of the soldiers who sacrificed their lives for the nation.

The party, in a statement, expressed serious concern over the rising incidents of militant attacks in Jammu and Kashmir.

Questioning Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the “worsening situation” in Jammu and Kashmir, the Congress asked the BJP-led government to take more “effective measures to contain Pakistan- sponsored terrorism which is again raising its ugly head and threatening the life and property of innocents besides targeting the jawans.”

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