Terrorists fire at security forces at Jhajar Kotli, flee into forest

2 injured, High alert in Jammu


JAMMU, Sep 12: Three suspected Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists, believed to be part of a suicide squad, infiltrated into Jammu and Kashmir Wednesday and fired at security personnel on the state's main highway before escaping into a forest near this city, police said.
The terrorists attacked security personnel from a truck that was intercepted as it was speeding past a checkpost in JhajarKotli on the arterial highway that connects Jammu to Kashmir Valley, officials said.
Panic gripped Jammu and its neighbouring areas after the three men escaped into a forest between JhajarKotli and Nagrota on the outskirts of the city. Additional checkpoints were erected at Katra, the base camp of the Mata Vaishno Devi cave shrine visited by thousands of devotees. Drones were deployed over the forest areas to locate the missing terrorists.
A search operation was launched by police, paramilitary forces as well as the Army and security around important installations was strengthened. A forest guard was injured when they fired at him.
"After they were intercepted, they ran into a forest area between JhajarKotli and Nagrota. They spotted a forest guard, wearing a uniform and fired at him. He was injured and is stable," said Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Jammu, Vivek Gupta.
Though the men managed to escape, the driver and the conductor of the truck was caught.
Piecing together events of the morning from the interrogation of the driver, from Budgam in central Kashmir, officials said the trio infiltrated from the Kathua-Sambha border early Wednesday morning. They boarded the truck at ChakDayala, a village about two to three kilometres from the international border. The Special Task Force of the state police has taken the driver and his aide to the place in JhajarKotli where they were picked up, the officials said.
The three terrorists are believed to be part of the Jaish-e-Mohammed and had entered India to carry out a 'fidayeen' (suicide) attack, a senior official said.
"The recoveries, including medicines and dry fruits, made from the truck suggest that they are here to carry out a terror attack," he said.
Gupta added that an AK assault rifle and three magazines were seized from the truck.
Using the bypass road, the truck attempted to flee at a security checkpoint near JhajarKotli and was intercepted by security personnel after a few metres, officials said, giving details.
They said the men crossed over to the India side through a 'nallah', or drain.
"This is being frequently used. The issue has been flagged but the BSF, which is mandated to man the international border, disputes it every time," an official said.
A high alert was issued for areas along the Jammu-Srinagar national highway and the Jammu region after the incident.
The last time a terror incident happened in the Jammu region of the 294 km highway was in August 2015 when Lashker-e-Taiba terrorists fired at a Border Security Force (BSF) convoy, killing two personnel.
A Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) trooper and a forest guard were injured.
The brief shootout took place near JhajjarNalla around 8 a.m. when police intercepted a truck travelling from Jammu to Srinagar. The militants were travelling in the truck and one of them opened fire at paramilitary troopers and the forest gaurd, the police said.
The militants who had two AKs and a pistol escaped in the melee, a police official said here.
Later a high alert was sounded Wednesday in the Jammu region after suspected militants fired on security personnel on a highway here, police officials said.
Security in and around important and strategic establishments was also increased, they said.
The high alert was issued for areas along the Jammu-Srinagar national highway and the Jammu region after the incident, the officials said.
Security was increased at Katra, the base camp of the Mata Vaishno Devi cave shrine, and on all roads leading to the town, they said.
The officials said all checkpoints on the highway have been put on alert and vehicles are being checked.
The suspected militants opened fire on the security personnel after they intercepted a truck that sped past a check point on the highway, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Jammu, Vivek Gupta, said.

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