Friday, March 2, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Colonel killed, Brig injured
Militants ambush Army convoy in Anantnag
Tribune News Service and agencies

Srinagar, March 1
Striking in a big way for the second time since the Centre’s three-month extension of ceasefire in Jammu and Kashmir, militants belonging to Lashkar-e-Toiba today ambushed an army convoy triggering a fierce gunbattle which killed five persons, including a Colonel, in Anantnag district.

Heavily-armed militants hurled grenades and fired on the convoy at the busy Janglat Mandi, 55 km from here, around 4 p.m. killing Col J.P. Janu and a jawan, an Army spokesman said.

He said two civilians and a militant were also killed in the 30-minute gunbattle that followed the ambush.

Five persons, including Brig Bikram Singh, commanding officer of First Rashtriya Rifles, and a jawan, were injured in the attack.

Official sources identified the other three dead as Maulvi Mohiuddin, Abdul Ahad Sheikh and Mohammad Shafi — all residents of Anantnag district. Mohiuddin is suspected to be a militant.

Pro-Pakistan Hizb-ul-Mujahideen claimed the responsibility for the ambush. A spokesman for the outfit telephoned news organisations here owning responsibility for the attack on the convoy.

However, Brig R.K. Chhabra said: “We have evidence to show that the ambush was carried out by Lashkar-e-Toiba.”

Official sources said “it appears that the ambush was carried out by a suicidal squad of the militants”.

Brig Bikram Singh, had become a household name as the Army’s spokesman during the Kargil conflict in 1998.

Suspected militants shot at and critically wounded Inspector Mohammad Shaban Wani, incharge of the police division of Qamarwari.

Mr Wani was admitted to hospital where he died early this morning.

Militants hurled a hand grenade at a patrol party at Kulgam in south Kashmir last evening, injuring five SOG men and two civilians. The bodies of Bashir Ahmad Mir and Abdul Salam Mir’s wife Hajra Begum were recovered from Kalaroos forest in the frontier district of Kupwara last evening.

The spokesman said the Jammu and Kashmir Police and the Border Security Force in a joint operation arrested five members of Pakistan based Al-Badr in Sopore last evening.

These militants were involved in nine attacks, resulting in five deaths and injuries to 61 in Sopore town in the recent past. Security personnel recovered a rifle, eight magazines, 197 rounds, a pistol and four grenades during the operation.

The security forces gunned down two militants at Badyal Qazian area while another foreign militant was killed by forces at Korera Bhagwah this morning.

Some arms and ammunition, including a universal machine gun, two rifles, 5 kg of RDX, five grenades and 25 rounds were recovered from the slain militants. Two police personnel were injured in the clash.

At least three persons were injured when unidentified gunmen fired towards the house of Abdul Rashid at Wagub in Baramula district last evening.

JAMMU: Two policemen were killed and three were wounded when militants tried to ambush a vehicle carrying Rs 1 crore near Basholi in Kathua district today.

The police said a van carrying Rs 1 crore in cash was on its way to Basholi and Banni from the Kathua treasury. The cash was meant for disbursement of salary among the government employees in Banni and Basholi. As the van neared Basholi, it came under heavy fire from the militants who had taken shelter behind trees. There were eight policemen and a cashier in the van.

The police retaliated and forced the militants to flee. But before they escaped, they killed two policemen and wounded three. The condition of two policemen was said to be critical.

The policemen, who escaped unhurt, drove the vehicle to Basholi where they deposited the cash in the treasury. The police sent a helicopter to Basholi to airlift the wounded to the Jammu Medical College. The authorities said the incident was serious as Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, was scheduled to inaugurate the Ranjit Sagar Dam project near Basholi on March 4.

The state police has already informed the Punjab police to take suitable measures to prevent militants from sneaking into the dam area. During the past three years, militant activities in the hilly belts of Banni, Basholi and Bilawar in Kathua district have increased.

Whenever the militants operating in Doda district have come under pressure from the security forces, they have escaped to Banni and Basholi. Sources said the motive behind carving out bases for militants in the Banni-Basholi belt was to provide Punjab militants with a launching pad in the area. Banni, Basholi and Hiranagar provide the militants a short route to cross over to Pathankot and Gurdaspur in Punjab.

Additional police forces aided by paramilitary forces have been rushed to the area under the Superintendent of Police, Kathua. Paramilitary forces and the police plan to carry out combing operations to ensure that the area close to Punjab is sanitised.Back


UK bans 21 terrorist groups
LTTE, a few Sikh, Muslim outfits included

London, March 1
The British Government yesterday banned 21 groups, the majority Islamic, which it has branded as terrorist under a new law enabling it for the first time to proscribe organisations targeting foreign states.

In a significant development the British government yesterday proscribed at least 21 terrorist outfits, including Babbar Khalsa, International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF), Harkat-ul-Mujahideen (HUM), Jaish-e-Mohammed (of Maulana Massood Azhar), Lashkar-e-Toiba, LTTE and Al Qaida under a new terrorism Act.

They also include Al-Qai’da, a loose organisation led by Osama bin Laden, now living in Afghanistan. The British Home Office concedes that the large majority of the groups on the list — which does not include animal rights or environmental activists — have not attacked British targets. However, British home secretary Jack Straw told MPs yesterday he was “entirely satisfied” that they were all “concerned in terrorism” under the new, broad, definition laid down in a law which came into force earlier this month.

He said his decision, which will not be effective until it has been approved by parliament, was based on the advice of the British Secret Service (MIS) and lawyers. Charles Clarke, the Home Office Minister, insisted that the move was not directed at any “specific community” or those campaigning “in a peaceful way for political change”.

The new UK Terrorism Act, which for the first time allows the home secretary to proscribe foreign-based groups, defines terrorism as “the use or threat of action” designed to “influence the government or to intimidate the public ... for the purpose of advancing a political, religious, or ideological cause”. The measure, like its predecessor, the Prevention of Terrorism Act, covers Northern Ireland-based groups, 13 of which — on both sides — will remain proscribed.

NEW DELHI: India on Thursday welcomed the announcement made by the British Government to proscribe several terrorist organisations, including the LTTE and Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT), Harkat-ul-Mujahideen and Babbar Khalsa, saying the step would strengthen international community’s resolve to combat terrorism.

An External Affairs Ministry spokesman said the decision “underscores a recognition that terrorism is a threat to all democratic forces worldwide.” The Guardian, UNI

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