Army NCO killed in operation against hidden militants in Poonch

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Mendhar, J&K, Nov 17 (UNI) A Non-Commissioned Officer of Army was killed during an ongoing operation against militants hidden in Behri forests near here, a few hours before the start of Assembly elections for phase-I in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir, an official spokesman today said.

A soldier, identified as dog master Naik Huma of 3 ASSAM regiment, was killed when the hidden militants opened burst of AK-rifle on troops conducting search operation in Behri forests, about six kms from mendhar town near Line of Control (LoC), the spokesman said.

The encounter had started last night when troops were searching in the forest area, sources said, adding that Naik Huma, the dog handler, who was in the front, received the volley of bullets fired at the search party.

One soldier was reportedly missing after the encounter, sources said.

''Entire forest has cordoned off and a massive search operation is being conducted by the security forces besides plugging all the possible escape routes,'' an army source said, adding the troops were finding it challenging due to thick vegetation in the forest.

The troops were searching for the escaped militants, believed to be the self-styled commanders of terrorist outfits, in the forests, who were spotted near Mendhar town a few days back, sources said.

Senior Army officers had also reached the site and are closely supervising the operation.

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