A gunfight with militants in Rajouri’s forests in Jammu and Kashmir has left two soldiers injured and sparked fears of another long operation as militants take refuge in the rough terrain and dense vegetation.

Official sources said the operation was launched on Monday afternoon but the gunfight started during the night, injuring two jawans. They said the army was using sophisticated drones and choppers to track the movement of militants, believed to be two or three in number.

A police officer said the operation had already dragged on for 30 hours by Tuesday evening but he hoped it would not drag on for days like the recent Kokernag operation that lasted for eight days.

The Kokernag gunfight had led to the death of a colonel, a major, a deputy superintendent of police and a soldier last month.

The operation in Rajouri is another example of a shift in militant strategy to take their battle against the security establishment from the plains to the mountains.

Officials said a joint team of the army and Jammu and Kashmir police cordoned off the Broh and Soom forest belts in Rajaori’s Kalakote on Monday following information about suspicious movements.

The militants opened fire on the troops as they tried to break the cordon. Additional troops were rushed to the area on Tuesday to lay a siege around a large area to prevent the militants from escaping.

Jammu police chief and additional director of police Mukesh Singh on Tuesday rushed from Jammu to Rajouri, around 200km away, to monitor the operation on the ground, officials said.

Director-general of police Dilbagh Singh recently said two to three groups of militants are active in the twin border districts of Rajouri and Poonch, also called the Pir Panchal region.

The region has witnessed the highest militancy-related incidents in Jammu and Kashmir this year.

The militants have carried out several high-profile attacks in the region this

year, killing seven members of the minority Hindi community in one attack and 10 jawans in two separate attacks.

More than two dozen militants were also killed there in different gunfights.