Srinagar/Jammu: Suspected militants in combat uniform Friday struck in Jammu region in twin audacious attacks, killing three people including a soldier guarding an Army camp gate, police officials said.
All the three militants were killed in fierce gunbattle in a joint operation carried out by the police and the Army in Kathua district that lasted nearly 10 hours, they said.
In a pre-dawn strike, three militants, who according to the police, are believed to have sneaked through Tarlah nallah (canal) from the international border during the night, stopped a jeep carrying pilgrims to Gurdaspur in Punjab near a bridge in Hiranagar.
The gunmen, dressed in Army fatigues, ordered the five occupants to alight from the vehicle and after separating the driver Taraseem Singh, opened fire at them in which a passenger, Ajit Ram, was killed while three others were injured. The injured were identified as Kamaljeet Singh, Gurpreet Singh and Santokh Singh.
All the three militants were killed near the Army camp which houses 111 ‘Rocket Regiment’ of the Army, the police said.
The area where the encounter took place is 12 kms from border and 100 kms from Jammu city, winter capital of the state.
One Army man identified as Lance Naik V Anthony was killed in the gunfight with militants who also hurled grenades at the Army positions. Another soldier was injured.
“We have killed all the three militants in the day long operation and recovered a huge quantity of arms and ammunition from them. The operation has been concluded,” Inspector General of Police (Jammu) Rajesh Kumar told reporters here.
Before making a failed attempt to attack the Army camp, the militants killed the driver of the hijacked vehicle.
Taraseem Singh’s hands were found tied with his mouth stuffed with cloth and his throat was slit by the militants, the police said.
The IGP said the militants hijacked the vehicle along with the driver and drove to this Army camp in Janglote. The driver was later killed by them and the body was dumped one kilometre away from the forest area in Janglote.
Large quantity of arms and ammunition were recovered from the slain militants, he said, adding they included three AK-47 rifles, three pistols, several magazines, a large quantity of grenades and IEDs, which were not opened to know their exact number.
Besides this, recoveries included a wireless set, eatables and other items, he added.
To a question about infiltration, Kumar said, “it is being investigated and I will not comment on it as to from where they had entered.”
Director General of Jammu and Kashmir Police Ashok Prasad told PTI that immediately after the police control room was informed, all check posts and security establishments were alerted.
Despite bad weather, helicopters were pressed into service to locate the vehicle which was finally spotted in a Nallah (seasonal canal) outside 111 Rocket Division in Kathua, he said.
The militants failed to get near the Army camp main gate as an alert guard engaged them in gun fire.
Meanwhile, a lesser-known militant outfit ‘Al-Shuhada Brigade’ claimed responsibility for the attacks in Kathua. Outfit spokesman Sami-ul-Haq telephoned Srinagar-based news agency KNS saying that its three members carried out the twin attacks. (with PTI inputs)