5 IAF soldiers injured as terrorists attack Air Force convoy in Poonch


One critical, all injured airlifted to Command hospital


JAMMU, May 04: At least five India Air Force personnel were injured in bordering Poonch district after a group of terrorists attacked the IAF convoy on Saturday, officials said.

Officials said the attack took place in Shah Sattar  forest area, which is densely covered with trees and which falls between Surankote’s Sanai Top and Mendhar’s Gursai area of border Poonch district.

Jammu based Army spokesperson confirmed the attack. He, however, didn’t elaborate further.

This is the first major attack on the armed forces this year in the region which witnessed a series of terror attacks on the army last year. Visuals from the attack site showed at least a dozen bullet holes on the windscreen of the vehicle that came under fire.

Sources said that the injured air warriors were airlifted to Command Hospital Udhampur from Poonch within half an hour from the attack while the other vehicles of the convoy had been secured and safely reached its destination. They said that the condition of one of the injured was stated as critical.

In a statement issued here, the Indian Air Force said that “an IAF vehicle convoy was attacked by militants in the Poonch district of J&K, near Shahsitar. Cordon and search operations are underway presently in the area by local military units. The convoy has been secured, and further investigation is under progress.”

Sources said a combing and search operation had been going on in the area between Mendhar and adjoining Surankote for the past few days following reports of movement of terrorists. During the searches, terrorists opened fire on a vehicle carrying Air Force personnel The latter retaliated and in the ensuing firefight, five personnel were injured. Reinforcements of police and security forces were rushed to the area as soon as reports of the attack came in.

A cordon and search operation has been initiated by the local Rashtriya Rifles unit to apprehend the perpetrators. The area has been cordoned off and searches are in progress, sources said.

This is the second militant attack in Pir Panjal region, spread over Rajouri and Poonch districts, in the last 12 days. A 40-year-old government employee was killed after unknown terrorists had opened fire on him near Shahdra Sharief area of Thanamandi on April 22. The man was identified as Mohammad Raziq of Kunda Top and his brother was reportedly a soldier in the Territorial Army.

On December 21, four soldiers had died in a terror attack on the Mughal Road between Dehra Ki Gali and Bufliaz in Poonch. In view of the upcoming parliamentary elections in the area, security forces and police have already launched cordon and search operations at a massive scale to flush out terrorists and their sympathisers. A few days before the Shahdra Sharief attack, the police and security forces, in a joint operation, had apprehended a school headmaster from Hari Buddha area of Poonch and seized a Pakistan-made pistol along with ammunition as well as two Chinese grenades from his house.

Poonch is part of Anantnag-Rajouri parliamentary constituency which is going to polls in the sixth phase on May 25. Meanwhile security and searches intensified in Kathua, Doda, Udhampur and Kishtwar after unknown terrorist killed a Village Security Guard on April 28 in Basantghar—(KNO)


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