A 35-year-old man, who allegedly consumed poison on being called by police for questioning in connection with the last week Poonch attack case, died on Thursday, an official said.
Mukhtar Hussain Shah, a resident of Nar village in the district’s Mendhar tehsil, was perturbed as he was facing some domestic issues, he said and added that he was not summoned as a suspect.
He allegedly consumed poison at his house on Tuesday evening. He was admitted to the Government Medical College, Rajouri, where he died on Thursday morning, the official said.
Shah took the step within hours of he being asked to report for questioning in connection with the April 20 ambush by militants in Bhata Dhurian forest that left five soldiers dead, he said. “He was not a suspect (in the attack case) but was called for questioning like most of the residents of his village that is located near the ambush site. We came to know he was facing domestic issues and was perturbed,” the official said.
The government forces have detained over 60 people in an ongoing anti-militant operation following the attack in Bhata Dhurian, a notorious infiltration route for militants from across the Line of Control because of its topography, dense forest cover and natural caves.
The massive search and cordon operation has been extended to many areas of both Poonch and nearby Rajouri but there has been no contact with the militants who fled the scene after the deadly ambush.
The official said a suspect has admitted to having provided logistic support to the militants for over two months and his further questioning is on.
Special forces are also engaged in the search operation that entered its eighth day on Thursday, officials said, adding that agencies are using drones, sniffer dogs and metal detectors in the operation.
Sources had earlier said that seven to eight militants in two groups are believed to have engineered the attack.
The militants reportedly hid themselves under a culvert on the road from where they launched the attack on the truck which was carrying fruits, vegetables and other items to Sangiote village from the Bhimber Gali camp for Iftar to be organised by the Rashtriya Rifles, according to initial investigation.
Over 50 bullet marks were on the vehicle and these showed the intensity of the firing by the militants, the sources said.
Troopers involved in the operation are exercising utmost caution as the militants may have planted improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in the densely forested area with deep gorges and caves, they said.
The slain personnel were from a Rashtriya Rifles unit deployed for counter-militancy operations.
Experts from various agencies, including the National Security Guard (NSG) and the National Investigation Agency (NIA), have visited the site of the attack, the officials said.
They said a sniper is believed to have targeted the vehicle from the front before his associates fired and lobbed grenades on the vehicle from opposite sides, apparently giving the troops no time to retaliate. “The terrorists used steel core bullets that can penetrate an armoured shield,” they said, adding, before fleeing, the militants decamped with the service weapons of the personnel.