A tragic incident unfolded in the border regions of Rajouri-Poonch districts in Jammu and Kashmir, as terrorists ambushed two army vehicles in Dera Ki Gali, resulting in the loss of at least four soldiers' lives and injuries to three others. The army had been engaged in operations in and around the Dera Ki Gali (DKG) area since Thursday night.
The ambush occurred around 3:45 pm when two vehicles, a gypsy, and a mini truck, were en route from Bufliaz in Surankote to Thanamandi in Rajouri. Terrorists executed a well-planned attack, indiscriminately firing upon the vehicles, causing injuries to at least seven soldiers.
Tragically, four soldiers, identified as B Singh, K Kumar, C Kumar, and G Kumar, succumbed to their injuries during the transportation to the hospital, while three others—Sundeep Kumar, S S Dass, and T D Bhaskarrav—sustained injuries. The army, however, officially confirmed three fatalities and injuries to three personnel.
A statement from a defense ministry spokesperson in Jammu shed light on the situation, stating, "An operation was being conducted in the general area DKG (Dera ki Gali), Thanamandi, Rajouri, since the night of December 20, 2023. At approximately 3:45 pm on December 21, two army vehicles carrying troops were moving to the operational site, which were fired upon by the terrorist. The fire was immediately retaliated upon by our troops. In the ongoing operation, our troops sustained 3 fatal and 3 non-fatal casualties."
In response to the ambush, the army swiftly cordoned off the area, deploying reinforcements to neutralize the attackers. Notably, the stretch between Dhera Ki Gali and Bufliaz, the site of the attack, is densely forested, leading to Chamrer and Bhata Dhurian forests, where a similar ambush claimed the lives of five soldiers on April 20 of the same year.
The Rajouri-Poonch region has been grappling with an upsurge in terrorist activities since 2021, witnessing major attacks on the army. Last month, a two-day anti-terror operation in Rajouri's Kalakote resulted in the loss of five soldiers, including two captains.
The region has seen twin attacks in April and May this year, claiming the lives of 10 soldiers. Northern Army Commander Lt General Upendra Dwivedi recently acknowledged the presence of 20 to 25 terrorists in the Rajouri-Poonch area, also known as the Pir Panjal region, estimating it would take at least a year for the army to eradicate terrorism from the region.
A senior police officer emphasized the formidable challenge faced by security forces, attributing the complex terrain to the advantage of the enemy—a mix of local recruits and battle-hardened mercenaries skilled in guerrilla warfare.
He stated, "The security forces face an enemy deeply rooted in the terrain, an enemy that knows the land as intimately as the trees themselves. The dense forests have become their fortress, concealing both their presence and their deadly intent."