A group of five terrorists is holed up inside a house in Batote along the Jammu-Kishtwar national highway and efforts are on to neutralise them, police said, as security forces launched a massive search operation after the ultras attacked an Army team Saturday morning.
The militants were encircled by the search parties inside the house after they managed their escape from the scene of the earlier encounter in the highway town in Ramban district, officials said.
The officials said house owner, Vijay Kumar, is also believed to be trapped inside and efforts are on to evacuate him safely.
"A group of five terrorists is trapped in Batote town. Joint parties of police, Army and CRPF cordoned the area and the exchange of fire ensued," a police spokesman said.
He said the trapped terrorists had fired at the Quick Reaction Team (QRT) in the morning and tried to escape.
After a hot chase, they entered the house of a civilian in Batote town which was immediately gheraoed, the spokesman said, adding senior officers are on the spot supervising the operation.
Earlier, the officials said a fresh exchange of fire started between the holed up terrorists and the security forces in the main market around 1 pm after intense search operation despite inclement weather.
While efforts are on to bring out the house owner safely from the house, his family members have been evacuated to safety after they managed to come out, they said, adding the ultras had forced their entry into the house while being chased by the security forces.
In the morning, the terrorists hurled a grenade and opened fire at the QRT of the Army at Dharmund village, leading to a brief exchange of fire.
Reinforcements were immediately rushed and the whole area was cordoned off to neutralise the terrorists, who are believed to have come from the Kishtwar side and had reportedly spent the night at an abandoned temporary shelter shed on the highway, the officials said.
Jammu-based defence spokesman Lt Col Devender Anand said, "Today (Saturday) morning at about 7.30 am, two suspicious individuals tried to stop a civilian vehicle at the general area Batote on the highway. The driver was alert, did not stop the vehicle and rushed and informed the nearest Army post."
"The quick reaction team reacted promptly and contact was established with the suspicious individuals," he said.
The movement of the traffic on the highway was stopped following the incident as a precautionary measure, they said.