All 3 militants killed, ASI killed in gunfire, IG Police says no security breach happened
Srinagar: Three Jasih-e-Mohammad (JeM) militants mounted a pre-dawn fidayeen (suicide) attack on the base of Border Security Force (BSF) located at Humahama, triggering a fierce gunfight during which three militants and one BSF Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) were killed, and four other BSF men sustained injuries.
The attack was a major security breach as militants were able to storm the BSF base situated on the periphery of the highly fortified Srinagar airport. Due to the attack, at least one incoming flight to Kashmir was delayed and passengers going to the airport to catch flights were halted outside.
According to locals living in the Humhama area, they heard a loud bang at about 4am, followed by an intense volley of bullets being fired.
“We heard a loud explosion near the BSF camp,” a person living near Friend’s Enclave told Kashmir Reader. “Then we heard loud thuds, which later we came to know were the initial exchange of gunfire and grenade explosions.”
The slain BSF man was stationed at the house of a retired Inspector General of Police on security duty. The BSF base is located close to the Friends Enclave that has homes of bureaucrats, ministers and top police officials.
As the intense exchange of fire continued, interspersed with loud explosions, two militants were killed at two different places at around 9:30am, a police official who was near the site said, adding that the BSF ASI lost his life during the initial assault by the militants.
At around 10:00am, the authorities gave the green signal for civilian aircrafts to land at Srinagar airport, and passengers were also allowed to proceed towards the airport.
Government forces surrounded the BSF camp after the attack, with contingents of police, CRPF and BSF arriving in bullet-proof vehicles. A lone militant hiding inside the large yellow-painted concrete structure inside the base opened fire on the forces, triggering another round of intense gunfight. Plumes of smoke rising from the building were visible from outside. The government forces used rockets and smoke grenades to corner the militant. He, however, gave stiff resistance.
The bursts of gunfire and explosions continued till two hours, when the government forces threw smoke grenades and fired rockets inside the building. It was followed by intense firing which forced the militant to run towards a nearby building. As he jumped out of the window, the militant opened indiscriminate fire on the forces, which was retaliated. He was shot dead before he could reach the nearby building.
Addressing a press conference, Kashmir’s Inspector General (IG) of Police Munir Khan claimed that the attack on the BSF camp of 182 Bn was effectively repulsed by the BSF and quick reaction teams (QRTs) of CRPF and Budgam SOG, without any collateral damage.
He downplayed the breach, saying the base was located far away from the airport. He added that there was no three-tier security around the camp.
“The fidayeen militants belonged to the (Afzal) Guru squad of JeM,” Khan said, flanked by IG BSF Sonal Mishra and IG CRPF Randeep Sahai, and other top officials at the press conference.
“Taking advantage of the dark, the militants sneaked inside the base by cutting the fence wires located between the Gogu land and Friends Enclave,” he added.
Khan said that two militants were killed in a brief gunfight near the administrative block and the mess building.
“The intentions of militants were to inflict major damage on the forces. But they failed due to the response of our reaction teams,” Khan said. “An ASI was killed and three BSF persons were injured during the exchange of fire. The injured are in stable condition.”
The IG Police said that forces could have used aerial weapons to conclude the operation quickly, but could not do so as the camp was surrounded by civilian population.
“We had taken a precaution by delaying a flight. Later, the routine flight operations were resumed immediately,” Khan said.
In response to a question that aircraft on the airport was reportedly shifted to the hangar, out of fear that militants might breach into the airport, Khan said, “No such thing happened”.
Khan said that militant attacks will continue to happen in Kashmir. “When we have a neighbour like Pakistan, such things will continue to happen,” he said, while rejecting assertions from the media that the attack was a major security breach. “We have not said that militancy is over in Kashmir,” he said.
Khan claimed that the Over Ground Workers (OGW) who brought the fidayeens to Humhama have been identified.
The IG said the fidayeen group that mounted the attack seems to be part of a large Jaish squad that infiltrated through Shakargah sector in the month of July.
“The Jaish is known for conducting these surprising and sensational fidayeen attacks,” he said. “About 6 to 7 militants from this group are still alive. We will deal with them separately. We will also plan a different strategy to deal with such attacks,” he said.
Khan said that local militants in Kashmir have shifted to mountains and forests and are keeping low. “They have given space to foreigners who are now exploiting the situation,” he said.