M A I N   N E W S

Commandos kill holed-up militant
Eleven injured in Anantnag blast
Tribune News Service

Jammu, October 29
In a pre-dawn swoop, commandoes of the Army shot the Laskhar-e-Toiba (LeT) terrorist who killed three persons, including two children, and was later holding hostage an official of the Military Engineering Service (MES) and his two children at Akhnoor, 25 km from here, since last afternoon.

Meanwhile, Mrs Shyama Devi, wife of Mr Beli Ram, an official of the MES, succumbed to the bullet wounds in the Medical College Hospital here today. His 11-year-old daughter Nancy and 12-year-old son Aman, were shot dead by the terrorist yesterday.

The commando action came at about 1.30 am when the terrorist became drowsy and the Army personnel threw smoke shells in the flat in which he had taken the three persons hostage.

The terrorist had escaped the Army cordon on Monday when his two accomplices were shot and taken shelter in the forest. He resurfaced yesterday and entered a three-storeyed residential building of the MES where he killed two children and injured six others. The troops got all neighbouring buildings vacated before the commando action for which the wee hours were selected.

The commandoes stormed the second-storey flat where the terrorist had taken Ashok Kumar and his two children hostage. The operation was carefully planned to avoid any casualty.

The militant was among the three who had damaged the railway track near here on Sunday, causing derailment of the Shalimar Express. They later killed two occupants of a car on the Jammu-Pathankot highway and reached here in the vehicle. Thereafter, they took another vehicle to reach the border area but were intercepted by troops at the Akhnoor bridge.

This is for the second time in the past one month that the terrorists have struck at Akhnoor which is the virtual entry point to the border districts of Rajouri and Poonch which are the hotbeds of militancy. The militants had earlier attacked a camp of the EME where a brigadier and some soldiers were killed. Certain top Generals of the Army were also injured in a subsequent terrorist attack on the same day.

Fingers are being raised on the role of the J&K police in the episode as these terrorists wearing khaki uniforms crossed at least 14 checkposts of the police before being challenged by the troops. They were not stopped at any of the checkpoints which are supposed to function round the clock.

The police became active yesterday after the incident and all checkpoints were made operational, but during a drive on the highway today this correspondent witnessed that the lethargy on the part of the police was as before and hardly any vehicle was being subjected to a check.

Meanwhile, an officer of the BSF was injured today when an IED exploded at Dhamkund in Udhampur. The IED exploded when the BSF party was searching a forest area.

SRINAGAR: At least 11 persons, including 10 civilians, were injured in a grenade explosion caused by suspected militants on the second day of the holy month of Ramzan in Anantnag district today. This follows a grenade explosion at the Central Telegraph Office (CTO) in which at least 38 civilians were injured here yesterday.

The police here said unidentified militants lobbed a grenade at the Mehandi Kadal crossing in Anantnag town at 12-15 pm today. At least 10 civilians and an SPO were injured in the explosion, who were hospitalised.

While the Lashkar-e-Toiba outfit has warned of escalation in militant activities during Ramzan, the authorities have made it clear that there would be no ceasefire in view of the holy month, which entered the second day today. The National Conference president, Mr Omar Abdullah, had on Monday last here urged Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to announce a Ramzan ceasefire as a goodwill gesture.

In a separate militancy-related incident, an unidentified militant was killed in an encounter with the security forces in the Churnar forests of Kupwara district early this morning. The encounter ensued when the hiding militant opened fire on a joint patrol party of the security forces and police.

One AK rifle, three magazines, 56 rounds and a grenade were seized from the site of encounter.

Two suspected militants were apprehended by the security forces during a search operation at Banghdara Kriri in Baramula district yesterday. They have been identified as two brothers, Bashir Ahmad Malik and Hafizullah Malik. One AK rifle, six magazines, 180 rounds, one pistol, one UBGL, two wireless sets and six hand grenades have been seized from their possession, the police said.

JAMMU: Five militants, including two top Hizb-ul-Mujahideen men, and a securityman were killed in separate encounters in the Paddar and Sangla hills of Doda and Poonch districts in Jammu and Kashmir since last night, official sources said today.

On a tip-off that militants were planning to target the minority community at a village in the Atholi-Paddar hills in Doda district, security forces laid ambushes in the area.

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