Poonch ambush: NIA steps in, army hunts for terrorists | Jammu News


JAMMU: National Investigation Agency (NIA) sleuths descended Friday at the site in J&K’s Poonch where terrorists ambushed two army vehicles and killed four soldiers the previous day, scanning the site and detaining over two dozen suspects in the latest in a series of such attacks in the Jammu area in the past few months.
NIA teams are not usually sent by the Centre in the immediate aftermath of such terror strikes on army squads. Friday’s arrivals in the middle of an intensive army combing operation to flush out the attackers underscored the gravity of the situation after the attack that also injured three other soldiers. The banned People’s Anti-Fascist Front (PAFF), an offshoot of the Pakistan-backed Jaish-e-Mohammed, has owned up to the ambush.
Thursday’s strike in Dera Ki Gali of Poonch’s Surankote area on the convoy ferrying reinforcements for an ongoing anti-terror operation came a month after forces lost five personnel in a similar offensive in adjoining Rajouri. “The NIA sent its team to the scene (Dera Ki Gali) suo motu. Several houses are being searched. Thirty suspects are being questioned,” an official source said.
Sources said the terrorists, believed to be three to four, took positions on hill tops and chose a blind curve to target the army vehicles. “They used US-made M40 rifles, not traditional AK 47 or 56,” the source said.
Choppers, drones and sniffer dogs are trawling the dense forests of Dera Ki Gali for the attackers in the cordon-and-search operation. Additional troops were deployed Friday. General officer Commanding (GoC), XVI corps, Lt Gen Sandeep Jain visited the area. The Dhera Ki Gali (DKG) Road has been closed to traffic.
Before this, PAFF had claimed responsibility for an ambush this April, killing five army jawans after lobbing grenades and firing steel core bullets. Such bullets have been found this time, too, with sources saying the group is better armed than most others. According to the Union home ministry, PAFF came into existence in 2019.
Thursday’s ambush came less than a month after northern Army Commander (NAC) Lieutenant General Upendra Dwivedi indicated the presence of retired Pakistani soldiers among terrorists in J&K, flashing the alert days after the Rajouri encounter in which five army personnel and a top Lashkar-e-Toiba died along with another operative. According to Dwivedi’s assessment then, there could be around two dozen terrorists in Jammu region, including the Rajouri-Poonch belt.
Security experts voiced concern at the situation in the region, where 59 people, including 24 security personnel and 28 terrorists, have perished in terror strikes this year.
Official sources saw three broad reasons behind the spurt. One, a sharp decrease in Pakistan-backed terrorists’ sway over the Kashmir valley, besides surging public support after abrogation of Article 370 and initiatives like holding a G20 meet in Srinagar.
The second reason is frustration in Pakistan and its allied terror groups over India’s increasing international clout and third is shifting of some troops from J&K, especially south Kashmir, to the LAC with China after the June 2020 Galwan skirmish, the sources added.


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