Two soldiers including a Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) and two militants were killed when a heavily-armed fidayeen group stormed a camp housing families of the Army’s 36 Brigade in Jammu’s Sunjuwan area on Saturday.
Nine persons, including five women and children, were injured in the pre-dawn attack that continued late into Saturday night. The condition of two of the injured is said to be “critical”.
The dead soldiers were identified as Lieutenant Madan Lal Chaudhary of 4 JAKLI and Subedar Ashraf Mir.
A Jammu-based Army spokesman said two militants wearing Army fatigues were killed in the operation. “Both were carrying AK-56 rifles and large amounts of ammunition and grenades. They belonged to the Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM),” said the spokesman.
Major Avijit Singh of 6 Mahar suffered injuries in the counter attack.
State Parliamentary Affairs Minister A.R. Veeri said the group of militants managed to enter the premises of JCO’s family quarters as they lobbed grenades and opened indiscriminate fire around 4:10 a.m.
Briefing media persons at the camp, Jammu-based Army PRO Lt. Col. Devender Anand said, “The quick response teams have cordoned off the area and isolated the terrorists, who are holed up in a few houses (inside the camp).”
“Due to the presence of women and children in the housing colony, the operations is being progressed cautiously to minimise the casualties,” he said. “Over 150 houses have been cleared and the occupants moved to safety.”
The Army airlifted special commandos from the Northern Command Headquarters in Udhampur to the encounter site and a helicopter was used to identify the militants’ positions. Generators and searchlights were brought to the camp, apparently in preparation for a night assault.
Though the exact number of militants was not known, officials said preliminary estimates suggested that there could be three to four of them inside the camp.
“It seems a well-planned attack. They seem to have come with the motive of prolonging the operation. Intermittent fire was on till late Saturday evening,” said a police official.
The attack comes just a day after the fifth death anniversary of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru. JeM’s Afzal Guru squad, has in the past too, carried out similar attacks in Jammu and Kashmir Valley.
Mehbooba condemns attack
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, who condemned the attack, chaired a meeting of security agencies in Jammu “to assess the situation”.
“The attack is an effort by elements inimical to peace to break the developmental pace in the State. All sections of the society should stand together in such a sensitive time and defeat the designs of the perpetrators, who also want to divide people under different names,” said Ms. Mufti.
She asked security agencies “to maintain strict vigil on vital installations, airports, bus stations and other crowded places”.
All political parties in J&K, including National Conference, Congress, Peoples Democratic Party and BJP, have condemned the attack.