Another soldier dead in Rajouri, Army toll 5; LeT’s top terrorist gunned down

: Another soldier was killed on the second day of the encounter in the Bajimaal area of Kalakote in Rajouri district, taking the Army toll to five, while two terrorists, including a Lashkar-e-Toiba commander, were also shot dead on Thursday.

Sources said the operation which was halted last night resumed this morning. Two terrorists were eliminated and a soldier was killed on the second day of the encounter, which began in the forest area of Kalakote after the Army and J&K Police received inputs about the presence of two militants.

On Wednesday, four Army personnel, including two Captains, were killed and two others injured in the operation. The two injured solders — a Major and a jawan — are admitted at the Command Hospital in Udhampur.

Intelligence sources said the two slain LeT terrorists, one of them identified as Pakistan Quari who was trained in Afghanistan, had visited a local shrine in the area, as shown by a video footage of the terrorists.

A trained sniper, Quari was an expert in jungle warfare and making IEDs, the sources said, adding that “he was trained by the Pakistan army on the Pakistan and Afghan fronts”. Army sources said Quari and his men were active in Rajouri-Poonch forests for the past one year and he was suspected to be the mastermind of Dhangri and Kandi attacks in Rajouri this year. Seven civilians, including two minors, were killed in the Dhangri attack in January this year, while five soldiers were killed in the Kandi gun battle in May. Quari was sent by Pakistan to revive terrorism in the region and was helped by local overground workers (OGWs), the sources said. The second terrorist is yet to be identified. The Army used rocket launchers to target the location where the terrorists were hiding. Since the militants were frequently changing their position, drones were also pressed into service to detect them.

Sources said the encounter began on Wednesday after a team of soldiers from 63 Rashtriya Rifles was searching for terrorists in the forests of Kalakote. The operation has not officially ended, the sources said, adding that the terrorists' bodies have been retrieved along with rifles of AK series, ammunition and food material.