Two officers from J&K, two Jaish militants killed; army readying for night offensive after evacuating more than 150 houses
Srinagar: In a pre-dawn attack, militants stormed into the Sunjwan army camp in the east of Jammu city, triggering a fierce gunbattle in which one junior commissioned officer (JCO) and one non-commissioned officer (NCO), both of them natives of Jammu and Kashmir, and two militants have been killed. Three women and some children of army personnel are among nine others who have suffered injuries. The condition of two of them is critical.
A government source said that the militants, whose number was reported to be four, stormed the camp at 4:50am and started indiscriminate firing on the troops at the Sunjawan camp, which is under the First Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry in 36 Brigade.
During the initial assault, the sources said, three persons including Subedar Madan Lal Chowdhry were injured. Chowdhry succumbed to his injuries in hospital.
Soon after, the area which lies just on the outskirts of Jammu city, was cordoned off by the army’s quick response teams (QRTs) who were assisted by police and paramilitary CRPF in sanitising the area.
An army official said that militants were initially restricted to a limited area and the families of the army men were evacuated before the encounter fully started.
The army source said that militants took refuge in the JCO quarters. During the ongoing gunbattle, Subedar Ashraf Mir died while two other soldiers, including an officer, were injured. They have been removed to hospital.
IGP SD Singh Jamwal told reporters in Jammu that “around 4:55am suspicious movement was noticed by the sentry and his bunker was fired upon. The fire was retaliated. The number of militants isn’t known. They’ve been cornered in one of the family quarters.”
Jamwal said the authorties have sounded a high alert and police is on alert and strict security arrangements have been made in the areas close to Sunjwan.
The army spokesman said that militants were isolated and holed up in a few houses.
“Due to presence of women and children in the housing colony, the operations are being progressed cautiously,” he said.
The authorties also closed schools in the entire area surrounding the camp to avoid any untoward incident.
As the afternoon approached, army helicopters and drones were pressed into service for surveillance while special para commandoes were called to counter the militants, whose number was still unknown till reports last came in.
One militant was killed in the late afternoon outside the building, an army source said, adding that the gunbattle was still on with the rest of the militants who have taken shelter in army buildings.
The army was still unsure about the locations of the militants and was preparing to launch a full offensive as the evening approaches, he said.
An army source said the army has brought generators and searchlight to the camp, apparently for a night assault.
A statement released by the army in evening said that the militants wore army combat dress and carried AK-56 rifles, plenty of ammunition and hand grenades. The army said that search of their belongings indicated that the militants belong to the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM). The army said two “heavily-armed terrorists” had been killed so far and the operation was being conducted with “extreme caution” after clearing more than 150 houses of their occupants.