Army Jawans returning from the encounter site at Zodar in Kulgam district on Thursday

Kulgam encounter took place in area close to Srinagar-Jammu highway, says IGP Vijay Kumar

Six terrorists and two soldiers were killed in three separate gunfights, including one close to the Line of Control (LoC) in Rajouri in Jammu & Kashmir, on Thursday.

“A search party of the Army established an engagement with the terrorists in the Dadal forest area in Sunderbani Sector on Thursday and challenged them. The terrorists opened fire and lobbed hand grenades, leading to a fierce encounter. Two foreign terrorists from Pakistan were killed and two AK-47 rifles and ammunition were recovered from them. In the operation, Naib Subdedar Sreejith. M. and Sepoy Maruprolu Jaswanth Reddy also died,” a Jammu-based Army spokesperson said.

He said the search of the area continues. “The operation was launched after the information regarding an infiltration and the movement of terrorists in the area of Dadal, Sundarbani Sector, Rajouri. The Army had launched an extensive search operation with effect from June 29, 2021 in the area,” the spokesperson said.

Earlier in the day, the police said four Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorists had been killed in two separate anti-militancy operations in south Kashmir’s Pulwama and Kulgam.

“All the four slain terrorists killed in two separate operations in Kulgam and Pulwama districts were locals. Two slain terrorists killed in Kulgam were planning a big strike on the National Highway. In fact, the encounter took place in an area close to the highway,” Inspector General of Police Vijay Kumar said.

Mr. Kumar congratulated the security agencies for three successful operations in the past 24 hours. “Five terrorists have been killed in three encounters in Kashmir,” he added.

Divulging details of the night-long operations in Kulgam and Pulwama in south Kashmir, an Army spokesman said a joint team set up multiple checkpoints at the Zodar area of Kulgam in the night.

“At 3.00 a.m., a white Maruti car was asked to stop for checking. The terrorists on seeing the troops started firing and ran towards the adjoining forested area. The area was immediately cordoned off and a firefight ensued,” the spokesperson said.

In the joint operation, two terrorists, Shahbaaz Ahmad Shah of the Jaish-e-Muhammad, active since July 2020, and Nasir Ayub Pandit of the LeT, active since June 2021, were neutralised. “One AK-47 and one pistol with a large quantity of ammunition was recovered,” the Army said.

In Pulwama, the Army spokesperson said a cordon was laid around a built-up area in the Puchhal area. “At 3 a.m., terrorists lobbed grenades on the cordon party and tried to escape. A call for surrender was made but terrorists retaliated by firing and lobbing grenades at the security forces. In the ensuing gunfight, two terrorists of the LeT were eliminated,” said the spokesperson.

The slain were identified as Kifayat Sofi and Inayat Ahmad Dar from Pulwama. “One AK-47 and one pistol and other war-like stores were recovered from the encounter site,” the spokesperson said.

‘No Fly Zones’

Meanwhile, the Jammu district administration on Thursday declared the Raj Bhavan and the Civil Secretariat to be ‘No fly zones’, and also banned the use of drone cameras during the Lieutenant-Governor’s event in the district.

“In view of security threat posed due to recent trends of carrying out drone attacks by anti-national elements, it is imperative to initiate necessary security measures for ensuring the safety of air space over Raj Bhawan and Civil Secretariat, they have been declared as ‘No Fly Zone’ areas,” the order reads.

The order said flying of drones and unmanned aerial vehicles shall be strictly prohibited over these premises with immediate effect. “There shall be complete prohibition on flying of drones and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) over all areas and venues in district Jammu as and when the Lieutenant Governor is scheduled to visit in connection with holding of events,” it further reads.

The order comes two weeks after terrorists targeted the Indian Air Force station in Jammu, which left two personnel injured.