Government forces on high alert
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JAMMU — Four heavily armed militants were killed in an encounter after security forces intercepted a Kashmir-bound truck, they were traveling in, on the highway town at Sidhra on Jammu’s outskirts on Wednesday.

War-like stores including seven AK-47 rifles, one M4 carbine, and three pistols including hand grenades and other materials were also recovered from the encounter site.

“Bodies of four terrorists have been recovered from the truck. Seven AK assault rifles, one M4 rifle, three pistols, and a large quantity of ammunition were also seized from their possession,” said Mukesh Singh, Additional Director General of Police Jammu, as per the news agency KNO.

He said, “An encounter broke out between security forces and terrorists at around 7:25 AM near check post at Sidhra, amid intense fog near Tawi Bridge along the Jammu-Srinagar national highway, when the police party tried to intercept a Kashmir-bound truck coming in suspicious circumstances.”

A police official said that there was an input about the unusual movement of a truck on the highway. “An alert was sounded and the police party at Sidhra post tried to stop the truck. After being challenged, the driver managed to flee away and the terrorists hiding inside fired at security forces. The retaliatory firing was done,” he said.

The residents of Sidhra area woke up to the sounds of five to six grenade blasts followed by a heavy exchange of fire. The joint operation was carried out by the Army, CRPF and J&K Police.

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Police said that the intense firing from both sides continued for about an hour after which the truck caught fire and later the fire tenders were pressed into service to douse the fire. “After the sanitization of the spot, security forces recovered four bodies of the terrorists along with seven AK-47 rifles, three pistols, and other incriminating materials,” the police official said.

Moreover, the General Officer Commanding of Army’s Tiger Division, Major General Gaurav Gautam told reporters that the interception of the terrorists was the result of the “high alert” of security agencies. “All the material recovered from the possession of the (slain) terrorists is being scrutinized and analyzed. We are not aware of the group… whether they came from across the border or not, is a matter of investigation. The only thing we can tell right now is that the truck was going from Jammu towards Srinagar side,” the senior Army officer said.

He added that as of now, the threat has been successfully naturalized in a joint operation, without any collateral damage. “At this juncture, I can’t be able to tell more but four terrorists have been killed in a joint operation,” the Army officer said, adding, “Seven AK-47 rifles and three pistols have been recovered from the spot.”

He said that more details about the association of terrorists and their plans is part of the investigation and will be shared at an appropriate time.

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How did the Sidhra gunfight break?

The Addition Director General of Police, Jammu Zone said that security forces have been on the alert and the border grid was increased in view of the Republic Day.

“The alert Highway QRT (Quick Response Team) noticed an unusual movement of a truck that was roaming on the highway at odd hours. The usual timing of the truck movement is different but the suspicious truck moved at different timing,” the ADGP said.

The alert QRT silently chased the truck and intercepted it at an appropriate spot, where the civilian population is minimal and chances of collateral damage were minimum. “The driver of the truck was signaled to stop at the check post, far away from the city. However, sensing trouble, the driver managed to flee from the spot, and terrorists inside opened fire at the police party, which was followed by retaliatory fire, and an encounter broke out.”

Meanwhile, a manhunt was launched to arrest the driver who is still absconding. “Alert has been sounded to nab the driver. All SHOs and other security establishments have been directed to search for the driver at every nook and corner of the city,” the ADGP said.

Moreover, the encounter comes after the police on Monday defused an improvised explosive device (IED) weighing 15 kilograms which was recovered in Jammu and Kashmir’s Udhampur district.

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