7 Killed In Marathon J&K Encounter

3 January 2009
The Times of India

Jammu: special police officer was killed as a fierce gunbattle, raging since Thursday, continued between security forces and terrorists at Mendhar in Jammu & Kashmir's Poonch district on SaturdayEarlier, four Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists and two Army personnel - JCO Rakesh Kumar and Naik P K Singh - had been killed before the operation was suspended after dusk on Friday due to poor visibility. The encounter ensued after a joint party of 39 Rashtriya Rifles, Special Operations Group Mendhar as well as Mendhar police, acting on a specific tip-off, intercepted six terrorists in Bhati Dhar forest and cordoned off the area. The terrorists then began firing from automatic weapons, which was retaliated by the operations group. It was then that the two Army personnel sustained wounds to which they later succumbed. A large number of troops have been rushed to the area and the encounter was going on when the last reports came in. A source said Naresh Kumar was killed on Saturday after the encounter resumed at the crack of dawn. 'The encounter is raging in the dense Bhati Dhar forest making it difficult to flush out terrorists,' the source said. The SOG is assisting forces in the operation, one of the longest in some time. Security forces suspect six terrorists were holed up in the forest. A police officer said bodies of the slain terrorists haven't been recovered so far as heavy gunfire has thwarted their attempt to do so. The mountainous region around Poonch has become a major headache for the security forces as it has become a safe haven for top JeM and Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists. Police have, meanwhile, arrested a retired police officer for allegedly providing shelter and logistical support to the holed up terrorists. 'Muzaffar Shah, a retired ASI, from Bhati Dhar has been arrested and sent to the Joint Interrogation Centre in Jammu for further questioning,' a police officer said.