Eight security personnel and three militants were killed when militants of the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) stormed the heavily fortified District Police Lines premises in Pulwama in a pre-dawn attack on Saturday. The operation continued till late in the evening. “The bodies of two militants were recovered. The third militant was trapped in another building,” said Jammu and Kashmir DGP S.P. Vaid.
The militants stormed the Special Operation Group building, housing the police arm that deals with counter-insurgency operations, by scaling a wall close to orchards at the extreme end of the sprawling premises around 3.45 a.m.
Two multi-storey blocks were blasted by the security agencies to flush out the “well-trained and highly motivated” militants. There was pressure “to wind up [the] operation fast” as locals had started assembling near the site and hurling stones “constantly,” but the operation lasted the whole day.
“Two trapped SPOs and one orderly employee [of the police] were killed as one block caught fire in the exchange of fire. The trapped security personnel could not manage to leave the complex. We tried to send fire tenders with ladders to evacuate them but the militants fired upon them too,” a police official said.
Freshly infiltrated group
“We evacuated 40 to 50 families from the premises where the gunfight was on,” said Muhammad Aslam, Supreintendent of Police, Pulwama. One policeman was killed during the evacuation of the stranded families.
Top counter-insurgency officials told The Hindu that these militants seemed from a freshly infiltrated group.
“There were inputs about the presence of a new group that has infiltrated from the Poonch side a few days ago. The group stayed in Shopian’s Keehgam village before heading for Pulwama. We are corroborating the intelligence inputs. These were highly trained militants and apparently carried weapons to fire grenades too,” said another police official.
JeM spokesman Hasan Shah said JeM militants had carried out the attack. “Our militants present there are giving a tough time to the Indian troops.”