Jammu, June 12 -- Security operations in Jammu and Kashmir's Kathua district resulted in the elimination of two terrorists after a prolonged engagement that lasted over 15 hours, during which a CRPF personnel was also killed. The operation commenced on Tuesday night in Saida Sukhal village, where the terrorists were initially spotted.

In a separate incident in Doda district, an attack on a joint check post by terrorists left five Rashtriya Rifles soldiers and a Special Police Officer wounded. This incident led to the suspension of traffic on the Bhaderwah-Pathankot road as a search operation was initiated.

These events followed a recent terrorist attack on a bus of pilgrims, resulting in nine fatalities and numerous injuries. In response, police have announced a Rs 20 lakh reward for information leading to the apprehension of the perpetrators and have circulated a sketch of one suspect.

Officials suggest that these incidents are part of a pattern of increased terrorist activity in the region, attributed to efforts by Pakistan to disrupt the local peace.

In Kathua's Saida Sukhal village near the International Border - around 60 kms from here - the second holed-up terrorist was killed on Wednesday noon in an intense gunfight after being cornered by the joint security parties of the police, Army and CRPF, officials said.

The terrorist tried to break the cordon by firing indiscriminately at the security forces around 3 am. Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) jawan Kabir Dass, a resident of Madhya Pradesh, was critically injured in the firing and later succumbed to injuries in a hospital, they said.

During the operation, official vehicles of Deputy Inspector General of Police, Jammu-Samba-Kathua range, Sunil Gupta and Senior Superintendent of Police, Kathua, Anayat Ali Choudhary were hit by several bullets but the officers escaped unhurt.

Talking to reporters after the encounter ended, Additional Director General of Police (Jammu zone) Anand Jain, who supervised the operation, said both the terrorists have been killed and a large quantity of weapons, improvised explosive devices and grenades recovered from them."A search is still on as there is a possibility of some more terrorists hiding in the area. The terrorists had freshly infiltrated (from across the border) and a joint operation was launched immediately after getting information about their presence in the village," he said.

He lauded the bravery of the slain CRPF jawan and said: "We salute his sacrifice."

Earlier, the ADGP said: "Two terrorists entered the village around 8 pm on Tuesday and asked for water from a household. The people got frightened and as soon as they informed us, a police team rushed to the village."

"One of the terrorists tried to hurl a grenade at the police team and was killed in the exchange of fire," he said.Officials said both the slain terrorists are believed to be Pakistanis. An M4 carbine, an AK assault rifle and over Rs 1 lakh in cash besides Pakistan-made food items and medicines were seized from the encounter site, they said, adding the identity and group affiliation of the terrorists were being ascertained.

A civilian was also injured in the terrorist firing and was hospitalised on Tuesday night, the officials said.

In Doda, terrorists fired on a joint check post of the 4 Rashtriya Rifles and police at Chattergalla area late on Tuesday night, leading to a fierce gunfight which continued for several hours, officials said.They said five Rashtriya Rifles personnel and an SPO were injured and they were taken to hospital. Additional security personnel have been rushed to the area to intensify the operation against the terrorists, they said.

According to the officials, traffic movement has been completely suspended on the busy Bhadarwah-Pathankot interstate highway in view of the ongoing search and cordon operation in Chattergalla, Guldandi, Sarthal, Shankh Pader and Kailash mountain range.

Without naming Pakistan, ADGP Anand Jain said the "hostile" neighbour is always making attempts to disturb peace in the Jammu region.

Meanwhile, a search and cordon operation has been launched in the Kalal area of the Nowshera sector in Rajouri district following suspicious movement of two persons.Security forces have been put on high alert following intelligence reports about possible attempts by terrorists to carry out an attack, especially in Poonch and Rajouri districts which has been seeing a spurt in terror activities over the past two years, officials said.

Meanwhile, the Congress in Jammu and Kashmir expressed concerns on Wednesday over back-to-back terror attacks in the Union Territory and sought answers from the Central government over the security situation in the region.Addressing a press conference at the Congress headquarters here, J&K Pradesh Congress Committee president Vikar Rasool Wani said: "We are very concerned about the series of terrorist attacks happening in Jammu."

Wani also hit out at the central government over its claims of improvement in the security situation in J&K.

"What are the security agencies and the government doing in the state? The government made a lot of noise in Parliament that it has improved the situation in J&K by removing Article 370 and making it a Union territory.

"They also sought votes in the parliamentary election on this. Be it the prime minister, the home minister or other big leaders of the BJP, everyone made such claims. But today, the situation has reached such a level that a series of terrorist attacks have taken place," the Congress leader said.

He said when Narendra Modi was the chief minister of Gujarat, he used to question the then-prime minister Manmohan Singh about where terrorists came from.

"Today, I want to ask the same question to Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and Defense Minister Rajnath Singh. You have the Army, BSF and other security forces, then where do these terrorists come from," he asked.

Wani said his party wants the situation in Jammu and Kashmir to improve."It should become terror-free. Terrorists should be stopped from coming here and the killings that are happening should also be stopped," he added.

Published by HT Digital Content Services with permission from Millennium Post.