HomeIndian DefenceRajouri-Poonch likely to get new sector chief; inquiry to find if SOPs...

Rajouri-Poonch likely to get new sector chief; inquiry to find if SOPs violated

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NEW DELHI: After a spate of incidents in Rajouri and Poonch in which Army soldiers were ambushed by terrorists, the Army is likely to send in a new sector commander responsible for counterinsurgency operations in the region. An inquiry has also been instituted into the deaths of three civilians, who had been picked up for questioning after the latest attack.

Sources said that a new sector commander of the Rashtriya Rifles (RR) is likely to take charge soon. An inquiry was on to establish if standing operating procedures were violated in recent attacks by terrorists on Army personnel, they said. The Army has elaborate laid down procedures to deal with terrorist-related incidents that have been defined through decades of experience fighting insurgencies.

Army chief General Manoj Pande is likely to visit Jammu on Monday to take stock of the security situation and will meet senior officers to assess ongoing counterinsurgency operations and review the situation along the Line of Control.

On Thursday, four Army soldiers died when their vehicles were ambushed while they were rushing to an encounter site. The terrorists are believed to have made a video of the attack and mutilated bodies of two soldiers.

Terrorists had earlier attacked an Army truck near Poonch in the same fashion in April, killing five soldiers. The truck came under fire while it was going to distribute rations to a nearby village, but it was not travelling with an armed convoy.

The Army has also launched a massive cordon and search operation in the forest area around Dera Ki Gali where the ambush took place on Thursday.Sources said an inquiry has been ordered into the deaths of three civilians who had been picked up for questioning. It is believed that a Major who led the operation to pick up the suspects has been attached pending the inquiry.The Army has not yet commented on the videos that emerged after the suspects were picked up that showed them being tortured and beaten. Relatives have claimed to have identified the deceased civilians in the videos.

The Rajouri-Poonch region has witnessed a string of operations this year in which 55 persons, including 20 armed forces personnel and 28 militants have been killed. It is believed that 25-30 terrorists are hiding in the upper reaches of the Poonch-Rajouri sector to launch attacks on security forces and defence forces suspect a nexus between Pakistan and China to revive terrorism in the sector to pressurise removal of troops from Ladakh.

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