The Rashtriya Rifles jawan fired on colleagues inside the Safapora (Manasbal) camp in Ganderbal district. One soldier remains critically injured.

Six Army personnel died when a soldier ran amok, killing five of his colleagues and himself with his service rifle, at a counterinsurgency encampment near Manasbal Lake in northern Kashmir on Thursday.

Superintendent of Police in Ganderbal district Shahid Meraj Rather told The Hindu that a sentry guarding a unit of Rashtriya Rifles 13th battalion, in the Sector-3 headquarters at Manasbal (on Srinagar - Bandipora road), walked into two rooms of a barrack and opened indiscriminate fire, killing all four soldiers in one room and another in the next room, at 2.30 a.m.

One soldier sustained injuries in the attack and was later rushed to Srinagar and admitted to 92 Base Hospital at the 15 Corps Headquarters.

After returning to his pillbox, the sentry shot himself dead.

While the police have registered an FIR, Defence sources maintained that the Army ordered an inquiry into the shootout. They held back the identities and residential particulars of the soldiers killed but said that one of them was a Junior Commissioned Officer.

Some incidents of fratricidal firing in the armed forces have been reported in the militancy-ravaged state in the last 15 years, but this is the highest death toll in a single incident. At least one Colonel and one Lt Colonel are among the officers killed so far, though most of the victims are lower ranked personnel.

In May 2012, soldiers of the Ladakh-based 226 Field Regiment staged a revolt against officers they said were responsible for the brutal beating of an enlisted man.

Such incidents have been attributed to stressful working conditions and rude behaviour of officers with the jawans, especially denying leave requests to periodically visit their families. Compromising the standard operating procedures and flaws in the command and control mechanism have also been pointed out as reasons behind such incidents.