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Kathua ambush: How troops forced terrorists to retreat

By Sumir Kaul
July 10, 2024 18:53 IST
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Taken by surprise when heavily armed men ambushed their convoy but quickly gathering themselves, jawans of the 22 Garhwal regiment fired more than 5,100 rounds to protect their injured colleagues and forced the terrorists to retreat into Kathua's wooded hills, officials said.

IMAGE: The truck carrying soldiers that was struck by terrorists at Badnota village, in Kathua on Monday, July 8, 2024. Photograph: ANI Photo

Two days after the terror attack that killed five Army personnel and injured five in Jammu and Kashmir's Kathua district, officials began piecing together the events -- of what happened when the ambush took place and in the more than two hours of continuous gunfire that followed before reinforcements came in.

The terrorists opened fire on two Army vehicles on the Machedi-Kindli-Malhar mountain road near Badnota village, about 150 km from the district headquarters of Kathua in Jammu region.


The soldiers facing heavy a barrage of bullets put up a stiff fight, firing incessantly to prevent more casualties and stop the terrorists from seizing their weapons and inflicting further harm.

Officials are looking at the evidence on the site, the bloodstained helmets, the bullet shells and the vehicles with smashed windscreens and flat tyres, and talking to the injured soldiers to understand how that fateful July 8 afternoon panned out.

The terrorists, believed to be a group of three, positioned themselves at two different locations and targeted the vehicles and the Army men, an official in the know said.

The attack, the fifth in Jammu in a month and signalling an escalation in violence in the relatively peaceful region compared to Kashmir Valley, started around 3.30 pm.

"Despite facing gruelling physical and mental challenges, the Garhwal regiment soldiers of the Indian Army unleashed a barrage of 5,189 rounds on the terrorists, forcing them to flee the scene," an official told PTI.

The injured jawans are undergoing treatment at the army hospital in Pathankot.

Among them is rifleman Kartik Singh. His right arm was punctured in several places by shrapnel from a grenade launched by terrorists but he was undeterred and continued the fusillade with his left arm until his weapon jammed.

His was only one of the stories of courage.

"The soldiers showed unwavering bravery and selfless dedication to duty, even in the face of grave injuries," said an official.

"The precise and relentless counterfire instilled panic among the terrorists who were forced to retreat, and allowed for reinforcements to secure the area," he added.

Those killed were Naib Subedar Anand Singh, Havildar Kamal Singh, Naik Vinod Singh, Rifleman Anuj Negi and Rifleman Adarsh Negi, all from Uttarakhand.

The soldiers were led by Junior Commissioned Officer Naib Subedar Anand Singh.

As they fought back, the 22 Garhwal regiment men shouted the war cry 'Badri Vishal Ki Jai' (Victory to the sons of Lord Badrinath).

"Despite sustaining initial setbacks and injuries, the brave soldiers of the Garhwal regiment embodied their motto 'Yudhaya Krit Nishchaya' (Fight with determination), standing their ground for more than two hours," an official said.

Kashmir Tigers, a shadow outfit of the banned Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), has claimed responsibility for the attack.

On Tuesday, a day after the terror attack even as operations were continuing in Kathua, a fresh gunfight broke out in Doda district following a search and cordon operation based on specific intelligence about the presence of at least three foreign terrorists.

The search for the terrorists on the run has been expanded to cover vast areas in Udhampur and Kathua districts, with Special Forces deployed to conduct surgical operations against the ultras, officials said.

The Jammu region has been shaken by a series of recent ambushes and terror attacks, particularly in the border districts of Poonch, Rajouri, Doda, and Reasi.

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Sumir Kaul
Source: PTI© Copyright 2024 PTI. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of PTI content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent.