2 terrorists, including LeT commander, soldier killed in encounter in J-K's Rajouri

2 terrorists, including LeT commander, soldier killed in encounter in J-K's Rajouri

Rajouri/Jammu, Nov 23 (PTI) Two terrorists, including a top Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) commander trained in Afghanistan, and a soldier were killed in a gunfight during an operation by security forces in Jammu and Kashmir's Rajouri district on Thursday, officials said.

With the soldier's death, the number of army personnel killed in the anti-terror operation that began on Wednesday in the Dharmsal belt's Bajimaal area has increased to five.

The officials said firing was halted in the night and the area was put under cordon. Firing resumed on Thursday morning, and two terrorists were eliminated, they said and added that a soldier was also killed in the operation.

The area was cordoned off and more security personnel were deployed in the night to ensure the terrorists do not escape from the thickly forested area, the officials said.

On the LeT commander, a defence spokesman said he has been identified as Quari, a Pakistan national and hardcore terrorist. 'He has been trained on the Pakistan and Afghanistan front. He is a highly ranked terrorist leader of the Lashkar-e-Taiba,' he said.

Quari, a top LeT commander, was active in Rajouri-Poonch along with his group for the past one year, police said, adding that he is also believed to be the mastermind of Dangri and Kandi attacks.

He was sent to revive terrorism in the region, they said. Quari was an expert in IEDs, a trained sniper and operated from caves.

The identity of the other terrorist is being verified.

On Wednesday, four army personnel, including two captains, were killed and two others injured in the operation against the terrorists in the Dharmsal belt's Bajimaal area.

The two injured army personnel -- a major and a jawan -- are admitted at the Army's Command Hospital in Udhampur.

Those killed in the operation are Captain M V Pranjal of Karnataka's Mangalore area, Captain Shubham Gupta of Uttar Pradesh's Agra, Havaldar Abdul Majid of Ajote in Jammu and Kahsmir's Poonch, Lance Naik Sanjay Bist of Uttarakhand's Halli Padli area and Paratrooper Sachin Laur of Uttar Pradesh's Aligarh, the officials said.

In a post on X, the White Knight Corps of the Army said based on specific intelligence, joint operations were launched in the Kalakote area of Gulabgarh forest in Rajouri on Sunday.

'Contact established on 22 November and intense firefight ensued. The terrorists have been injured and surrounded and operations are in progress, amidst acts of valour and sacrifice by their own brave hearts in trying to prevent collateral damage to women and children in the highest traditions of the Indian Army,' it said.

The encounter in Rajouri comes close on the heels of another gunfight in Behrote in Budhal area on November 17, in which one terrorist was killed.

Two earlier ambushes in the Mendhar area of Poonch and Kandi forest of Rajouri on April 20 and May 5, respectively, had claimed the lives of 10 soldiers.

According to officials, 46 deaths have been recorded in terrorism-related incidents in the twin border districts of Rajouri and Poonch and nearby Reasi district since January this year.

While 23 people, including seven terrorists and nine security personnel, were killed in Rajouri, 15 terrorists and five security personnel in Poonch district. Three terrorists were killed in Reasi district.

Several political parties, including the Congress and the BJP, have called for befitting reply to terrorism.

J-K BJP chief Ravinder Raina said Pakistan is repeatedly engineering terror incidents to destabilise the peace in the region.

'They have again hatched a conspiracy by pushing in a group of terrorists into Rajouri to ambush troops in which four of our bravehearts have been martyred,' Raina said. PTI AB ANB ANB

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