A massive cordon and search operation has been launched in Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch district following the terrorist attack on an army truck on Thursday. Five soldiers died and another was seriously injured in the terrorist attack on the military vehicle, reported NDTV.
Official sources said the truck has been hit by over two dozen bullets from all sides which indicates several terrorists may have been involved in the attack.
The vehicle carrying the soldiers – all of them from Rashtriya Rifles unit deployed for counterterror operations – was fired upon by the terrorists at around 3 pm and later caught fire due to a likely grenade attack, the Army said.
The attack has come three months after the targeted attack on Hindu families in Rajouri. Seven people were killed and over a dozen were injured in the attacks. The perpetrators are still at large despite a massive security operation in the area to track them down. Police have said that the terrorists were Pakistani nationals.
The National Investigation Agency, or NIA, will join the investigation into Thursday’s terrorist attack, an official told NDTV, adding that a team of the anti-terror agency’s unit in Jammu is on its way to the attack site.
A team of forensic experts is also at the site near the Bhimber Gali area of Poonch, officials added.
Four of the five soldiers are from Punjab while one soldier is from Odisha.
The Army’s 16 Corps, based in Nagrota, identified the soldiers who died in the attack as: Havildar Mandeep Singh, Lance Naik Debashish Baswal, Lance Naik Kulwant Singh, Sepoy Harkrishan Singh and Sepoy Sewak Singh. “The Whitenight corps stand in solidarity with the bereaved families,” it said in a tweet.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said he was anguished at the loss of lives of the brave soldiers. “In this tragic hour, my thoughts are with the bereaved families,” the Defence Minister tweeted. Political parties have also condemned the attack.
In a tweet, Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge said, “Strongly condemn the terror attack on an Army vehicle in Poonch District, Jammu & Kashmir. Our deepest condolences to the families of 5 Rashtriya Rifle Bravehearts.” “Our prayers for the injured personnel. We are united against terrorism,” he said.
“I pay my humble tributes to those heroes and express my deepest condolences to their bereaved families,” former Congress president Rahul Gandhi said.
Jammu and Kashmir BJP chief Ravinder Raina said the killing of soldiers will be avenged.
National Conference leader Omar Abdullah tweeted, “Terrible news of a terror attack in Poonch that claimed the lives of 5 army jawans in the line of duty. I unequivocally condemn this heinous attack & send my condolences to the loved ones of those killed today. May the souls of the departed rest in peace.” Apni Party president Altaf Bukhari said he was deeply saddened by the cowardly terrorist attack.
People’s Conference chairman Sajad Lone has also condemned the attack.
The terror attack took place on a day Pakistan announced that its Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari will visit India next month for the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation’s foreign ministers’ meeting in Goa. Mr. Zardari’s visit to India will be the first visit by any Pakistani Foreign Minister since Hina Rabbani Khar in 2011.
Ties between India and Pakistan came under severe strain after the 2019 terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama by Pakistan-backed terrorists and the surgical strikes by India on terrorist training camps in Pakistan’s Balakot in response.
The relations further deteriorated after India announced the withdrawal of Jammu and Kashmir’s special powers and the bifurcation of the state into Union territories in August 2019.
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