Twin terror strikes in Jammu; 10 killed
Jammu, September 26
Commandos of the Army’s 9 Para Unit, assisted by paramilitary and police forces, eliminated all three terrorists who stormed the camp of the 16 Cavalry in the garrison town of Samba after a fierce gunbattle. Hiranagar is some 50 km from Jammu city while Samba is about 38 km away.
“All three terrorists have been gunned down and the operation is now over,” Jammu Zone IGP Rajesh Kumar said. He said the terrorists, all in Army combat fatigues, carried automatic weapons and grenades. The Army and other forces have launched a combing operation to sanitise the Jammu-Pathankot highway and the border districts of Kathua and Samba, he said.
The bodies of the terrorists, aged between 16 and 19, are in the Army’s custody. A lesser known terror outfit, Shohada Brigade — believed to be Lashkar-e-Toiba's proxy name — has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah rushed to the Hiranagar police station and Samba to take stock of the situation
Officials said six persons, including four policemen, were killed in the 'fidayeen' strike on the police station in Hiranagar (Kathua) barely 7km from the border, in the worst terror attack on a security establishment in the Jammu region in 10 years.
Four Army personnel, including Lt Col Bikramjeet Singh, the second-in-command of the unit stationed at the camp, died in the Samba strike.
Two of the dead soldiers have been identified as Sepoy Kiran Kumar Reddy and Sepoy Srinivasan, defence spokesperson SN Acharya said.
The commanding officer of the unit, Colonel K Uthaiya, and two soldiers —— Sepoy MS Rohi and Havildar Inderjeet Singh — were injured in the attack and airlifted to the Chandimandir Military Hospital for specialised treatment. One of the soldiers later died.
Terrorists first attacked the Hiranagar police station around 6.45 am and then entered the Army camp in the adjoining Samba district where an encounter raged during the day.
The militants were holed up inside the officers’ mess for several hours and fired from automatic weapons and lobbed grenades from inside, sources said. The Army moved in helicopters to locate the terrorists. It also used tanks to move commandos close to the mess to carry out a counter-attack, sources added.
The 16 Cavalry of Samba Brigade belongs to the 9 Corps, which is headquartered in Himachal Pradesh and falls under the Army's Western Command. The Jammu zone IGP said the three terrorists reached the Pathankot-Jammu national highway at the crack of dawn and boarded an auto-rickshaw to reach Hiranagar police station. There they opened indiscriminate fire killing four police personnel. They also opened indiscriminate fire on a temple.
Those killed in the Hiranagar attack have been identified as ASI Rattan Singh, Constable Shiv Kumar, Selection Grade Constable Pardeep Singh, Special Police Officer Mukesh Kumar, Suresh Kumar (shopkeeper) of Sanyal village and Feroz Ahmed, the co-driver of the truck who belonged to Kashmir. The injured are ASI Gangu Ram, Constable Rattan Chand, auto-driver Roshan Lal and SPO Sohan Singh.
The terrorists then returned to the national highway and killed the co-driver of a truck before hijacking the vehicle at gunpoint and telling its driver to drive towards Samba, he said. The Hiranagar police station and the Samba camp are nearly 12 km apart.
“It appears the militants boarded a second vehicle after abandoning the hijacked truck to reach the Army camp,” said the IGP.
Auto-rickshaw driver Roshan Lal told reporters a group of three ultras intercepted him near the cremation ground at Haria Chak, a border village in Hiranagar tehsil of Kathua district, around 6 am as he was ferrying vegetables.
“They were dressed in Army combat fatigues. They asked me to take them to the highway, which aroused my suspicion. I first took them to Sanji Morh hoping the police checkposts en route would stop us, but the checkposts were not manned. Then I brought them to Chadwal on the highway,” he said.
“They asked me to stop the auto-rickshaw near a railway bridge on the highway. They alighted and discussed something and then asked me to take them to some Army or CRPF camp on the highway,” he said.
Roshan Lal said the CRPF camp in Hiranagar was not to their “liking”. When they reached Hiranagar police station, they first killed a shopkeeper and then shot me in the leg before entering the police station, he said.