The terrorists hiding in dense forests of Jammu and Kashmir’s Anantnag district have stopped firing for now, over a hundred hours into the search operation in which three senior security officers were killed in action.
It is not known if the terrorists have been killed by the security forces, or are still in hiding, or have fled, as the encounter that began Tuesday night entered its fifth day today.
Three officers, including two from the Army and a police, were killed in action on Wednesday as they tried to approach the terrorist hideout in the middle of the forest.
From rough terrain to inclement weather, the geography hasn’t been favourable to the security forces so far, but the security forces continue their relentless offensives and are using drones to hunt down the terrorists.
The terrorists, believed to be two-three in number and from the Lashkar-e-taiba terror group, are hiding in a cave in the forests of Gadol, a tactically favourable location for them. Dense forests, hills, and ditches make the area extremely treacherous. The area is also connected to the Pir Panjal range.
A security team tried to approach the terrorist hideout on Wednesday via the only route available and came under heavy firing. Caught between the hills on one side and a deep ditches on another, the forces were left without any cover.
Two Army officers – Colonel Manpreet Singh and Major Ashish Dhonchak – and Deputy Superintendent of Police Himayun Bhat were killed in action. Another soldier is believed to be missing.
Heavy rain affected the counterterrorist operations on Saturday evening. The firing halted and the showers offered the terrorists more opportunities to plan their moves, increasing challenges for the security forces.
A fire had also broken out in the forests during heavy shelling, but was put off by the rain.
The terrorists appear to be well trained in jungle and high-altitude warfare, and prepared for a long haul, say sources, adding that it may have taken a long time to set up the logistics in such a treacherous terrain.
These 100 hours, the troops have fired hundreds of motor shells and rockets, and targeted suspected terrorist hideouts with high-tech equipment. The terrorists are being monitored with quadcopters and drones.
Army’s Northern Command chief Lt General Upendra Dwivedi visited the encounter site yesterday and was briefed on how advanced equipment including drones and firepower are being used against the terrorists.