J&K: Search operation to track down terrorist groups extends to Kathua

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Jammu: Security agencies have widened the ambit of the search operation to Kathua district to track down two groups of terrorists involved in the killing of a village defence guard in Jammu and Kashmir’s Udhampur district.

A village defence guard (VDG) was killed in a brief encounter with terrorists in remote Panara village in Chochru Gala heights early Sunday, following which a hunt was launched jointly by the police, army, and CRPF.

The search operation, which entered the fourth day on Wednesday, is ongoing in Basantgarh, Bani and Seoj areas of Udhampur and Kathua districts, officials said, adding there has been no fresh contact with the fleeing terrorists.

As per sources, the movement of one group has been reported in the upper reaches of Udhampur district while the other group is seen to have moved towards Bani, Daggar and Kindli areas of Kathua district.

The movement of one of the groups was picked up from Allo Top and Seoj high altitude dense forested areas in Udhampur, they said.

More security personnel have deployed in these areas to strengthen the cordon in the large high-altitude forest belt between Udhampur and Kathua, they said.

Apart from the use of choppers, UAVs, and drones for surveillance, additional forces have been moved into these areas to intensify the efforts to track down and neutralise the terrorists, they said.

Several persons have been detained and are being questioned, they said.

On Monday, Additional Director General of Police (Jammu zone) Anand Jain said two groups of terrorists are believed to be present in the area after they recently infiltrated from across the border.

He said the strength of the two groups, as per preliminary investigation, is between four and six and the security forces are working on various inputs to flush them out.

According to official sources, the terrorists had reached Basantgarh from adjoining Kathua district after managing to sneak into this side from across the border and were heading for Chenab Valley when they were confronted by the police and VDG members.

The Bani-Basantgarh route from Kathua used to be a well-defined route for terrorists to Doda and Kashmir after their infiltration along the International Border (IB) until two decades ago.

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