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Kathua: Soldiers fired 5,000 rounds in 2-hour fight to push terrorists back

During Monday's ambush in J&K's Kathua district, Indian Army soldiers engaged the terrorists for several hours, preventing further casualties and stopping the terrorists from seizing their weapons

Terrorist attack, Terrorism, Kathua Terrorist attack, Army, Indian Army

Kathua: Indian Army personnel during a counter-terror operation following a terrorist attack on an Army convoy, in Kathua district, Tuesday, July 9, 2024. At least five Army personnel were killed in the terrorist attack. (Photo: PTI)

Bhaswar Kumar Delhi
Despite facing heavy gunfire during Monday's fatal ambush on a two-truck military patrol in Jammu and Kashmir's (J&K's) Kathua district, soldiers from the Indian Army's 22 Garhwal Rifles regiment fired incessantly, unleashing a barrage of over 5,000 rounds on the attacking terrorists, to prevent more casualties and stop the terrorists from seizing their weapons.

An unnamed official told news agency PTI that the soldiers from the Garhwal regiment "unleashed a barrage of 5,189 rounds on the terrorists, forcing them to flee the scene".

Five Army personnel, including a junior commissioned officer, were killed and five others injured on Monday, when heavily armed terrorists hurled a grenade and opened indiscriminate fire on two army vehicles around 3.30 pm. The attack took place on the Machedi-Kindli-Malhar mountainous road near the Badnota village, about 150 kilometres (km) from the Kathua district headquarter.

According to agency reports and accounts from local civilians, the heavy firing continued till 5 pm, followed by intermittent firing for another one hour. In fact, two hours of continuous gunfire reportedly occurred at the ambush site before reinforcements arrived.

Officials told news agencies that the ambushed soldiers displayed resilience and courage, despite facing casualties, and engaged the terrorists for several hours.

The ambushed troops reportedly retaliated immediately, fighting back till the terrorists disappeared into the dense woods.

Kashmir Tigers, a shadow group of Pakistan-backed terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), has claimed responsibility for the Kathua ambush.

How the fatal Kathua ambush unfolded

According to a Times of India report, the terrorists, believed to be three in number, took positions at two spots on a hill and used the thick foliage there for cover. From there, they ambushed the troops with a grenade and gunfire when the military trucks were negotiating a bend on the Machedi-Kindli-Malhar road.

Citing officials, PTI reported on Wednesday that the manhunt for the terrorists responsible for the Kathua ambush had led to the detention of a truck driver and 50 others for questioning.

According to the officials, a truck, which was initially close behind the army vehicles on the Machedi-Kindli-Malhar road, slowed down near Badnota village when the terrorists opened fire.

The agency report said that the civilian tipper driver was under suspicion and being investigated, with authorities looking into whether he had intentionally delayed the Army convoy by requesting a pass on the culvert.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, an official told the news agency that the role of the civilian driver, who slowed down the speed of the ambushed convoy, "has come under investigation as it is perceived that the driver deliberately asked for a pass on the culvert".

The official explained that while Army vehicles are usually given preference in these areas, the tipper still asked for a pass, slowing down both vehicles.

Massive search ops across four districts

According to information available with news agencies on Wednesday, a massive search operation, conducted by the Army and police, was on in dense forests across four districts amid heavy rain.

The operation was launched from Kathua, Udhampur, and Bhaderwah, with officials telling PTI that efforts were underway to track down and neutralise the terrorists, who were believed to be hiding in a forested area.

Army and police personnel were deployed in dense forests in various parts of the Udhampur, Samba, Rajouri, and Poonch districts.

Supported by helicopter and unmanned aerial vehicle surveillance, the search teams were also using sniffer dogs and metal detectors during the operation. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) was also assisting the police in the probe.

Meanwhile, special forces units were also conducting surgical operations in specific locations.

Jammu shaken by series of terror attacks

According to PTI, the Kathua ambush is the fifth terrorist attack in Jammu in a month, marking an escalation in the relatively peaceful region compared to the Kashmir Valley.

Recently, the Jammu region has been shaken by a series of ambush and terror attacks in the border districts of Poonch, Rajouri, Doda, and Reasi.

On June 9, terrorists attacked a bus carrying pilgrims from the Shiv Khori temple in the Reasi district, claiming the lives of nine persons and injuring 41.

Earlier in May, terrorists ambushed an Indian Air Force convoy in the Poonch district, killing one soldier and injuring several others.

(With agency input)

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First Published: Jul 11 2024 | 5:15 PM IST

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