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Poonch encounter: 'We will eliminate all terrorists'

By Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar
January 08, 2009 20:23 IST
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The stand off between the holed up terrorists and the Indian army in the densely-forested Mendhar area of Poonch district entered eight day with senior army officers refusing to set a time frame for winding up the operation.

The terrorists holed up in the 'natural caves' have resorted to intermittent firing ever since the army operation began on December 31, which has resulted in the death of two army troopers and a special police officer.

The army says that it has so far eliminated four terrorists, but their bodies have not been recovered yet.

A senior army officer said troops have laid a tight cordon around the area, and are presently busy in massive searches in a difficult terrain to eliminate the remaining three to four terrorists.

"We are conducting searches in the area. There has been no firing from the terrorists today. However, we cannot set any time frame for the completion of the operation. Our objective is to eliminate all the remaining terrorists," Brigadier General Staff of 16 Corps, Brigadier Gurdeep Singh told this evening.

"The area has been put under effective surveillance and presently exhaustive search of the entire area is in progress with the troops in full control of the situation," spokesman of the northern command, Col DK Kachari said in a statement.

The statement said, 'The area is thickly-forested and the folds in the ground along with a number of natural caves area provide hideouts to the terrorists. Though there are no fortified structures or bunkers in the area, the topography and terrain has possibly worked to the advantage in providing cover and hideouts for the terrorists.'

'Owing to the heavy winter fog, thick vegetation and difficult terrain conditions, operations are being undertaken with due care and precautions.'

'The operations are in progress and will be continued till the terrorists are completely eliminated. There can be no time frame set due to operational region and fluctuating weather conditions.'

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Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar