Ahead of PM Modi J&K visit, militants kill eight Armymen, three policemen in Uri encounter

The multiple attacks took place just two days before Prime Minister Narendra Modi's rallies at Srinagar and Anantnag.

By: Press Trust of India Written by Pranav Kulkarni , Mir Ehsan | Srinangar | Updated: December 6, 2014 2:24 pm
Soliders combating a group of militants who attacked an army camp in Uri, near the Line of Control on Friday. 8 army personnel, 3 policemen and 6 militants were killed in the shoot-out. (Source: PTI photo) Soliders combating a group of militants who attacked an army camp in Uri, near the Line of Control on Friday. 8 army personnel, 3 policemen and 6 militants were killed in the shoot-out. (Source: PTI photo)

In a pre-dawn attack ahead of the third phase of elections in Jammu and Kashmir, six heavily armed militants on Friday sneaked through the Line of Control in Uri sector and entered a highly fortified army camp located on the national highway at Mohura. They killed eight armymen — including a Lt Colonel — and three policemen in an attack that lasted for around six hours from 3 am, officials said. All six militants were killed in the gunbattle.

 

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Ahead of the December 9 voting in Uri, this was the first fidayeen attack on any army installation in the sector, which has two army brigades and two BSF battalions keeping vigil along the LoC. The camp is located 12 km from Uri town and belongs to 31 Field Regiment, an artillery unit that is part of the counter-insurgency mechanism. Large dumps of artillery shells are stored in the camp.

attack-bodyOfficers at the army headquarters in New Delhi said the foreign militants were “well trained” and sent from across the border to target Army installations to  “make a statement” amidst high voter turnout in the assembly elections.

In his reaction, Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted, “Attacks in J&K are condemnable. They are desperate attempts to derail the atmosphere of hope & goodwill as seen by increased voter turnout.” Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said, “It is possible that this has happened because of elections… Last few days, the Army has been intercepting terrorists and eliminating them. So, I think it is a sign of increased interception by the army.”

Six militants were also killed in the attack at the Army camp which is 20 km from the Line of Control (LoC), official sources said.

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah termed the attack as a desperate attempt by militants to disrupt peace in the state. “Once again shows the  desperate levels militants will go to disrupt peace and normalcy,” he tweeted.

Officials said that after crossing the LoC, the militants, who were dressed in army fatigues, fired on an army patrol and then killed three guards at the gate of the camp. While one militant took position at the gate, five others went inside and opened fire, killing two more personnel of the artillery unit.

The militant at the gate, on the other hand, attacked a police party led by Uri’s Sub Divisional Police Officer, which came near the camp, killing three policemen, including an assistant sub inspector.

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A defence spokesperson in Srinagar said, “Troops in the camp retaliated immediately and engaged the militants. Neighbouring units immediately mobilised their Quick Reaction Teams (QRT) and surrounded the area.”

An army spokesman said as QRT vehicles from the neighbouring 24 Punjab Battalion reached the camp, the militant at the gate opened fire on them. A couple of vehicles went off the road and overturned, killing three army personnel, including Lt Colonel Sankalp Kumar (40), Havaldar Subhash Chand (40) and Lance Naik Gurmail Singh (36). While the family of Kumar, who was the second-in-command of his unit, lives in Danapur Cantt, Chand was from Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh and Singh from Makhanpur in Jammu.

The army spokesman said, “The militant at the gate was immediately eliminated by the troops. During the operation, a barrack also caught fire, presumably because of a kerosene heater, in which some soldiers got trapped. The operation lasted for six hours and by 9.30 am all the militants were eliminated.”

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The fact that the militants split in groups — with one taking position at the gate to counter the reaction teams — showed “planning and training”, said Army sources in Delhi. The army said six automatic rifles with 55 magazines, two shotguns, two night-vision binoculars, four radio sets, 32 unused grenades, a medical kit and and a large quantity of warlike stores that could have sustained them for four or five days were recovered from the slain militants. Sources said the attackers, who had possibly planned a seige and take hostages, knew the topography of the area.

After the attack, the army launched a massive search operation in neighbouring Boneyar and Rampur areas.
Other armymen who were killed have been identified as Naik Panna Lal Yadav (35) from Mauliya in Azamgarh; Gunner Satnam Singh (32) from Amritsar; Lance Naik Sukhwinder Singh (31) from Sooch in Bhatinda; DMT Kuldeep Kumar (27) from Kheri Bullan in Jind; and Gunner Manpreet Singh (28) from Gurdaspur.

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Apart from the Mohura attack, there were three more militancy-related incidents in the Kashmir valley. Two militants were killed at Ahmadnagar neighbourhood in the outskirts of Srinagar when they walked into J&K police’s mobile check-point. “The militants were asked to stop at a checking point but they tried to escape and were killed in an encounter,’’ Inspector General of Police, Kashmir range, Abdul Gani Mir said. He said the police had set up check-points at various places ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Srinagar visit on December 8. “The militants who were killed were planning to enter the city,” Mir said. One of the militants was identified as Qari Asrar of Lashkar-e-Toiba.

In South Kashmir’s poll-bound Tral and Shopian towns, militants hurled grenades at security forces. While there was no casualty at Shopian, two civilians were killed and six were injured in the grenade blast in Tral.

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