Shootout breaks out in Doda amid manhunt after Kathua ambush | India News

JAMMU: Security forces and terrorists clashed in a remote forest in the upper reaches of Doda district in J&K Tuesday, while helicopters, drones, dogs, snipers, and elite military commandos assisted search teams during a widespread manhunt for the suspected Pakistani gunmen involved in a fatal ambush on an Army patrol in Kathua district Monday afternoon, which left five soldiers from Garhwal Rifles dead.
“The gunfight started when security forces launched a cordon and search operation in Goli Ghadi-Bhagwah forest following information about the presence of terrorists in the area. The operation is ongoing and two-three terrorists have been cornered,” an official source said.
This marks the fourth shootout in Doda district in a month. Three terrorists were killed in Gandoh-Bhaderwah sector on June 26. On June 12, five Rashtriya Rifles troopers and a J&K police SPO were wounded in an attack at Chattergala mountain pass, and a search team was fired upon in Gandoh, wounding a cop.
In Kathua district, a concerted search operation is underway in Machedi-Billawer area, where five soldiers, including a junior commissioned officer (JCO), were killed in the ambush. The fallen soldiers, all natives of Uttarakhand, were Naib Subedar Anand Singh Rawat from Rudraprayag, Naik Vinod Singh and Rifleman Adarsh Negi from Tehri, Havildar Kamal Singh and Rifleman Anuj Negi from Pauri. Five other soldiers are undergoing treatment at the military hospital in Pathankot. The slain soldiers’ remains have been sent to their homes.
“Members of the Army’s elite Para unit have been deployed to conduct surgical strikes against the terrorists in specific areas,” an official source said.
The search teams, backed by helicopters, drones, military dogs, snipers in ghillie suits, are focusing on dense forest areas. The teams are equipped with metal detectors following concern about improvised explosive devices planted by fleeing terrorists to hinder the search.
The search has expanded to adjoining districts of Udhampur and Kathua, including Basantgarh, Seoj, and the upper reaches of Bani, Daggar, and Kindli. Sources believe three to four terrorists executed the ambush and are part of the same group that killed a village defence guard in Udhampur’s Panara village on April 28.
J&K DGP RR Swain visited the Kathua site, where evidence of the attack and counterfire was visible — including bloodstains, helmets, bullet-riddled windscreens, and flattened tyres. The attack occurred around 3.30pm when terrorists ambushed the convoy when it was negotiating a bend on Machedi-Kindli-Malhar road. The terrorists, likely a group of three, took cover in thick foliage on a hill to surprise the troops with grenades and gunfire. On Tuesday, the two bullet-riddled trucks were found parked 300m apart.
Jammu has seen an escalation in terrorist activities, attributed to “intruders” from Pakistan operating in groups of three and four. These small groups remain a challenge for the security forces, with the number of local militants at its lowest in 35 years, according to sources. Of the 70 to 80 Pakistani terrorists active in J&K, nearly 55 to 60 are in Jammu zone. Since Oct 2021, at least 45 security personnel have been killed in the region.
Jammu division has been tense following four attacks through June 9, 11, and 12 in Reasi, Kathua, and Doda districts, resulting in the deaths of seven pilgrims, their local bus driver and conductor, and a CRPF constable.

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