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Poonch highway in J&K thrown open to traffic after 20 days of anti-terror ops

Poonch highway. (Representational l Image)

Twenty days after the anti-terror operation was started by the Army in Jammu and Kashmir's Poonch district on October 11, authorities on Sunday opened the Bhimber-Jaranwali Gali road on the Pooch highway and also allowed farmers in the area to carry out routine agricultural activities.

Police said farmers have been advised to report any suspicious movement they might see in the area.

One of J&K's longest anti-terror operations was started on October 11 in the Bhatta Durrian forest of Mendhar tehsil in Poonch.

The area of this operation was extended on October 14 to Thanamandi area in Rajouri district after nine soldiers, including two junior commissioned officers (JCOs) were killed and two policemen and another soldier injured in firing exchanges with the terrorists.

One Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorist belonging to Pakistan, Zia Mustafa was taken from Jammu jail to identify the hideout in the area.

He was killed when hiding terrorists attacked the approaching party of the security forces.

Around half a dozen civilians were detained for questioning after reports emanated that they had provided food and shelter to the hiding terrorists.

Army and police had made announcements asking locals not to venture into the forest area or graze their cattle there for fear of being caught in the crossfire between the security forces and the terrorists.

A portion of Bhatta Durrian forest caught fire during this operation due to heavy firing and use of rocket launchers by the security forces.

There is, however, still no official word on the number of terrorists killed in this operation.

Defence sources had said there could be 4 to 7 terrorists, most of them Pakistan nationals, who were hiding in the area after infiltrating into the Indian side of the Line of Control (LoC) probably a month or two before they were traced.

Chief of Indian army, General M.M. Naravane had also visited the area along with senior field commanders during his visit to J&K on October 19.