Battle with militants rages in Jammu; 2 JCOs, 2 kids killed

10 February 2018

Para commandos of the Indian Air Force have been flown to Jammu to take on terrorists who stormed an Army camp at Sunjwan in Jammu and Kashmir's winter capital of Jammu today and are engaged in an ongoing gun battle with the security forces.

Two Junior Commissioned Officers (JFOs) have been killed and six others, including a colonel and a girl, wounded in the predawn terror attack and subsequent fighting. Unofficial reports said that two children have also been killed during the attack.

Suspected Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorists have carried out the attack at the Army camp in the heart of Jammu city. The Army said the terrorists had managed to enter the family quarters in the camp and the attack had been contained.

Union home minister Rajnath Singh has spoken to the Jammu and Kashmir police chief S P Vaid who briefed him about the situation. The ministry is closely monitoring the situation, Singh's office later tweeted.

Police said the attackers have split themselves into two groups and one of these has been ''isolated'' in a corner of a four-storey building. There was uncertainty about the position and activities of the second group.

The sentry post at the army camp had noticed some suspicious movement around 4.55 am. When the sentry bunker was fired upon, the soldiers retaliated. After a brief exchange of fire, the terrorists entered the complex, an Army statement said.

The residential quarters housed women and children as well. The injured include the daughter of a junior army officer who had come to visit her father during school holidays. All the families have been evacuated. Schools within 500 metres of the camp have been asked to stay closed.

Though no militant outfit has claimed responsibility for the attack, the authorities believe Jaish-e-Mohammad is behind it. The security forces authorities had earlier on the basis of intelligence inputs alerted their men in the Kashmir Valley against possible terror strike by Jaish militants on the death anniversary of 2001 Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru. But they apparently ''forgot to do it'' in Jammu, according to a Deccan Chronicle report.

Armed insurgency by Muslim separatists and the tough military campaign by the security forces to crush it have claimed thousands of lives in Jammu and Kashmir since 1989.

Afzal Guru, convicted in the 13 December 2001 Parliament attack case, was hanged to death in Delhi's Tihar jail on 9 February 2013. The Kashmir Valley had witnessed clashes between stone-pelting mobs and security forces during a shutdown called by separatists and a security clampdown in summer capital Srinagar and Guru's home town Sopore on Friday to commemorate his hanging. At least, two persons were injured in security forces' pellet firing on protesters.

The state's minister for parliamentary affairs Abdul Rehman Veeri informed the State Assembly, currently in its budget session, that the militants stormed the Sunjwan military station shortly before dawn using the rear side where family quarters are located. He identified the slain JCOs as Subedar Madan Lal Chowdhary and Subedar Muhammad Ashraf Mir. The daughter of another JCO is among the injured.

He termed it as a ''fidayeen attack'' launched at the Sunjwan Militarty Station of 36 Brigade at around 4:10 am. He said four Army officials and a civilian who were injured in the attack are being treated at Jammu's Government Medical College Hospital (GMC).

''The whole area has been cordoned off by Army and the security forces and operation is underway as militants have taken refuge in JCO quarters in the area,'' he said.

He informed the House that during the operation, Colonel Rohit Solanki, Havaldar Abdul Hamid and Lance Naik Bahadur Singh and Neha daughter of Subedar Madan Lal Chowdhary were injured. They were initially taken to Military Hospital Satwari and afterwards shifted to GMC hospital.

Veeri said that the exact number of ''Fidayeen'' is still not known, but as per the initial call received at Police Control Room (PCR) Jammu at around 4:55 am four to five militants are involved in the attack. He added the police control room in Jammu immediately alerted all the concerned police establishments as well as civil administration regarding the incident. ''The GMC Jammu has also been informed to be in readiness to deal with any exigency and ensure best medical care to the injured,'' he said.

Director general of J&K Police, Shesh Paul Vaid, confirmed that the militants entered the military station from the rear side where family quarters are located. Inspector General of Police (Jammu range) S D Singh Jamwal told reporters in Jammu that around 4.55 am suspicious movement was noticed by the sentry and his bunker was fired upon. ''The fire was retaliated to. The militants have been cornered in one of the family quarters, he said.

He added that after the attack, reinforcements of the Army's Special Forces and members of the J&K police's counterinsurgency Special Operations Group (SOG) rushed to the spot and cordoned off the whole area amid a fierce gunfight.

Chief minister, Mehbooba Mufti, expressed anguish over the militant attack and the loss of life caused in it. In a tweet, she said, ''Deeply disturbed by the terrorist attack in Sunjwan today. My heart goes out to the injured & their families''.

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