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Fear grips Akhnoor residents

By Our Staff Reporter

TANDA (AKHNOOR) JULY 23. Fear has gripped the residents of this border belt of Jammu, as militants have set up bases in the surrounding forests.

In military terms Akhnoor has always been a strategic location. During the India-Pakistan wars, it was a prime target of the Pakistani Air Force. But only recently have militants become active in the area.

Two months ago, a plan to blow up the Akhnoor bridge was thwarted by the Rajouri police.

Had the plan succeeded, Rajouri and Poonch would have been cut off from the rest of the country.

A number of Army units are located here. Many families of Army personnel also live in the area.

The forward tehsils have witnessed migration every time hostilities broke out between the two countries.

A day after Tuesday's attack, the villagers still looked shocked. They pointed to the strong presence of militants in the thick forests. A villager, who was just metres away from the camp all through the attack, said: "The first encounter continued for six hours. There was absolute calm at the unit till late afternoon''.

The Army personnel were at ease as they thought they had completed sanitising operations and there was no possibility of any other fidayeen (suicide squad) attack".

The sanitising operations were also carried beyond the nullah running behind the camp from where the third fidayeen emerged. Only in the evening, when the commanders arrived and approached the area where the third militant was hiding, did the fidayeen lob two grenades killing a Brigadier.

The militant was blown to pieces when a grenade exploded in his hands.

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