Saturday, August 25, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Ultras gun down seven cops in Poonch
M.L. Kak
Tribune News Service


Jammu, August 24
At least seven policemen were killed when a group of militants stormed a police station in Poonch town late last night.

The Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba has claimed responsibility for the killings.

Official reports from the border town said a group of militants wearing Army combat dress lobbed a grenade on the police station followed by heavy firing. The guard died in the grenade attack allowing rebels enough time to storm into the police station and open fire. Six policemen were killed on the spot and another, Mohammad Rashid succumbed to his injuries later.

Those killed have been identified as Garu Ram, Bashir Ahmed, Irfad Ahmed, Shafiq Ahmed, Abdul Rashid and Dharam Vir Singh. Dharam Vir Singh, an ex-serviceman, was guarding the police station when the fidayeen, taking advantage of the dark, launched the grenade and gun attack. The attackers looted arms and ammunition also.

Eyewitness accounts said the fidayeen stayed inside the police station for some time and later escaped into the forest belt.

Within hours of this incident, the Army took control of the situation and set up pickets in several sensitive areas. Patrolling was stepped up and a massive search operation had been launched against the killers, according to Dr Kamal Saini, Superintendent of Police, Poonch.

A senior police officer said the attack by the fidayeen was to avenge the series of successes the security forces, especially the police, had achieved in eliminating about 250 militants in Poonch and Rajouri districts during the past four months.

For most of the day today the border town wore a deserted look as people were in a state of panic after the fidayeens attacked the police station. Senior police officers rushed to Poonch from Jammu and took stock of the situation.

The bodies of the slain policemen were sent to their homes for the last rites after all formalities were completed.

In the Sapowal border belt of Samba sector, Indian and Pakistan-aided militants exchanged fire for more than 10 hours. In the exchange of fire, three Armymen belonging to the 17 J & K Rifles were killed. The soldiers killed were Naib Subedar Bal Krishen, Lance Naik Abdul Qayoom, Iftikhar Ahmed, a jawan. Hussain Bhat, a jawan, was wounded.

Defence Ministry sources said as a result of effective retaliation by the Indian troops a group of militants escaped into the Pakistan territory.

The sources said the Sapowal border post had come under heavy fire from the other side to provide cover to the militants who were being pushed into Jammu sector, but the Indian forces foiled Pakistanís gameplan.

The troops launched search operations and defused three IEDs which the militants had planted to trap personnel of the Indian security forces. The Pakistani guns had fallen silent and a search for the militants had been launched to ascertain if any other group had sneaked into Samba sector.

In the Ghatt area of Doda district, militants killed a close relation of Mr Ghulam Qadir Wani, a senior National Conference leader and a former MLA. The police said Mr Waniís relative, Mohamnad Hussain, a contractor, was killed in his house early this morning.

The Doda district administration has swung into action to prevent supporters and leaders of Jamait-e-Islami from holding a conference at Kishtwar from today. Senior Jamaat leader Mr Saidullah Tantrey, and others have been taken into preventive custody.

According to a UNI report, Ms Dilshada, Deputy Secretary (Home) in the Jammu and Kashmir Government, had a narrow escape when militants fired at her at the busy Mahraj Bazar near here this afternoon.

Official sources said militants fired a volley of shots towards Ms Dilshada near her house at the crowded Mahraj Bazar.

While Ms Dilshada escaped unhurt, her personal security officer Javid Ahmad was critically wounded.

He was admitted to a medical institute at Soura. 

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