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Army Major killed in J-K, gunfight still on

By The Assam Tribune

JAMMU, July 14 (IANS) - An Indian Army Major was killed and a colonel injured in a fierce gunfight between security forces and a group of terrorists in Mendhar forest area of Jammu and Kashmir's Poonch district. The exchange of fire that started Tuesday night was continuing Wednesday, an official said.

Major Thange, 28, was killed Tuesday night. He belonged to Chhindwara area of Madhya Pradesh. Colonel Ajay Katoch received a bullet in his neck and is undergoing treatment at a military hospital.

Another officer and five soldiers were also injured in the gun battle with the group of four to six terrorists hiding in the Beri Rakh forests in Mendhar, about 230 km from here.

Their condition is stable now, the official said.

"The encounter is continuing. The terrorists are hiding in thickly forested area and firing from there," defence spokesperson Lt. Col. Biplab Nath said in a statement.

"Based on information regarding the presence of terrorists in Beri Rakh forests, troops of Rashtriya Rifles launched a cordon and search operation July 11. Late Tuesday night, contact was established with the terrorists and the firefight ensued."

"The area is heavily forested. Terrorists took advantage of the forest cover and fired from there. They also lobbed grenades," he said.

From their style of fighting the terrorists appear to be from the Lashkar-e-Taeba, Army sources said.

Major Thange was commissioned in the Corps of Signals June 9, 2007.

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