So far three militants killed, combing operation going on; says army

Nadeem Nadu

Jammu, Feb 11: Two Junior Commissioned officers were among five soldiers killed along with a civilian in an attack which army said was a group of fidayeens on its Sunjuwan Brigade here on wee hours of Saturday. While all slain soldiers and civilian belong to Jammu and Kashmir, the army has also claimed to have killed three fidayeens.

The slain soldiers have been identified as Subedar (JCO)  (Hony Lt) Madan Lal Choudhary (50)of Hiranagar, District  Kathua, Subedar Mohd  Ashraf  of Maidanpora Kupwara, Havaldar Habibullah Qureshi of Batpora Kupwara, Lance Naik Mohammad Iqbal(32), his father Ghuma Mohidin Sheikh (civilian) of Nigeenpora Pinglish Tral in Pulwama District and Manjoor Ahmed Deva (32).

Defence Ministry spokesman Colonel Devendra Anand said three militants had been killed in the encounter and the combing operation is still going on.

While some reports said four militants were killed, but the spokesman said he could confirm the killing of only three attackers. According to him, all the attackers were in Army fatigues.

Ten other persons, including six women and children, were injured in the attack.

The spokesperson said Army doctors worked through the night to save the life of a severely injured pregnant lady who delivered a baby girl through Caesarian surgery.

A 14-year-old boy with a gunshot wound in the head remains critical, he said.

Asked if more attackers could still be holed up inside the camp, the official neither denied nor confirmed the possibility. The fighting has lasted more than 30 hours.

The audacious attack was blamed on the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Muhammad militants who sneaked into the Army base station around 4.45 a.m. on Saturday.

The militants– whose nationality is not known — entered the Junior Commissioned Officers (JCOs) quarters while everyone was asleep.

Para-commandos from the Army’s Udhampur-headquartered Northern Command were flown to tackle the militants. The Air Force provided aerial surveillance.

A Major has been airlifted to an Udhampur hospital where his condition was stated to be critical, Army officials said.

Army helicopters and drones were pressed into service to ascertain the exact location of the militants, some reports quoting officials said.

While there was no action around the main entrance and vehicles were moving along the Jammu-Lakhanpur bypass in front of the camp, Army personnel in bullet-proof vehicles were engaged in the operation to rescue people from the family quarters in the rear side of the base, reports added.