A Pakistani militant was killed in a gunfight on Wednesday with Indian security forces in Jammu and Kashmir’s Rajouri district, NDTV reported. Five Army soldiers, including two captains, were also killed in the gunfight.

The militant, identified as Quari, held a high rank in the Lashkar-e-Taiba terror group, a defence public relations officer of the Jammu division said. “He has been trained on the Pakistan and Afghan front,” the officer said, according to NDTV.

He was an expert in improvised explosive devices and a trained sniper, India Today reported.

The Army personnel who died have been identified as Captain MV Pranjal, Captain Shubham Gupta, Havildar Abdul Majid, Lance Naik Sanjay Bisht and Paratrooper Sachin Laur.

The gunfight started around 9 am in Bazi Mal Upper forests in the district’s Kalakote area when militants, believed to be five to six in number, opened fire on the police and security forces, who had launched a cordon and search operation based on intelligence inputs.

An unidentified army officer told the Hindustan Times that the site of the gunfight was a treacherous mountain. “Dense jungles and alpine forests are making things tough for the security forces,” the officer added.

The fighting between the security forces and the suspected militants resumed on Thursday after a halt at night, reported PTI. While the spot was cordoned off overnight, additional security personnel were brought in to ensure that the militants did not escape.

“Isolated dhoks [huts made of mud] in villages nestled in the mountains make the civilian population, particularly women and children, vulnerable to terrorists,” an officer said.

Meanwhile, another unidentified senior police officer told The Indian Express that there has been a concerted push by militant groups in Pakistan to revive terror activities in the Pir Panjal region, comprising the border districts of Rajouri and Poonch.

The number of casualties suffered by the Army in the Jammu region since October 2021 has been over three times higher than those in Kashmir Valley. The militant groups have also carried out targeted killings of civilians, especially Hindus.

Twenty-three people, including seven terrorists and nine security personnel, have been killed in Rajouri since January, while 15 militants and five security personnel have been killed in Poonch, according to PTI.

On November 17, a militant was killed in a gunfight with security forces in the Rajouri district.

Also read: Why Pir Panjal is now a staging ground for militant strikes, from Rajouri to Anantnag