JCO among 5 army personnel killed, 5 injured as militants ambush army truck in Kathua

JAMMU — Five army personnel, including a Junior Commissioned Officer, were killed and as many were injured on Monday when heavily armed militants ambushed a patrolling party in the remote Machedi area of Jammu and Kashmir’s Kathua district, officials said.

The militant attack, the fifth in Jammu region in a month, evoked widespread condemnation with political leaders including three former chief ministers expressing concern over the growing number of militant incidents in J&K, especially in the Jammu region where militancy has returned after being wiped out over two decades ago.

The militants targeted an army truck, part of a routine patrolling party, with a grenade and gunfire on the Machedi-Kindli-Malhar road near Badnota village in Lohai Malhar, approximately 150 km from Kathua town, at around 3:30 pm, the officials said.

After the ambush, the militants fled into the nearby forest, as the army, assisted by police and paramilitary personnel, retaliated.

The army vehicle, carrying ten occupants, bore the brunt of the attack, resulting in fatal injuries to five soldiers, including a JCO. Five others have been shifted to Pathankot military hospital for treatment.

An exchange of fire between the militants and security forces ensued, with reinforcements quickly dispatched to the area to neutralise the attackers – believed to be three in number and heavily armed – who may have recently infiltrated from across the border.

It is the second major militant incident in Kathua district within one month, following a similar confrontation on June 12 and 13 that left two militants and a CRPF jawan dead.

A massive search operation is on despite heavy rains, the officials said. — (PTI)