IN A pre-dawn fidayeen attack, four heavily-armed militants tried to storm a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) camp in Bandipora on Monday, but were killed by security forces. According to police sources, at around 3:45 am, the militants tried to enter the headquarters of the CRPF’s 45 Battalion at Sumbal village in Bandipora district. But the CRPF personnel repulsed the attack, and stopped them from sneaking in. The Jammu and Kashmir Police’s Special Operation Group (SOG), who are stationed nearby, also rushed to the spot. All four militants were killed in the exchange of fire.
“They (militants) had come with the intention to create mayhem,” said J&K DGP S P Vaid. “But fortunately out sentry was alert and our officers and jawans retaliated effectively”.
“It was a joint operation of the J&K Police and CRPF,” said CRPF spokesman Rajesh Yadav. “Our jawans foiled their (militant) attempt to get inside the camp. All of them (militants) were killed outside the camp.”
Police said four assault rifles, an under barrel grenade launcher, nine hand grenades and seven UBGL grenades were recovered from the militants. “A large quantity of petrol was recovered from them,” said Nitish Kumar, DIG, North Kashmir. “This suggests that they wanted to set the camp on fire after sneaking inside”.
Though the police said they were yet to identify the militants and their affiliation, Hajin and Sumbal are seen as a stronghold of the Lashkar-e-Toiba. The area, which was once known to be a stronghold of counter-insurgency force Ikhwan, has seen a sudden increase in militant presence over the last six months.
In Delhi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the attackers had intended a prolonged siege since they were carrying dry rations that could have lasted them several days.
Giving details of the incident, he said the militants attempted to enter the camp by cutting the wire fencing and firing at the sentry post. He said they also lobbed more than two dozen grenades.
Singh said the CRPF and police personnel showed exemplary courage and valour by thwarting the attempt. “It is inspiring to see CRPF men staying awake all night and maintaining a tight vigil, and to see the J&K Police coming to the CRPF’s assistance quickly,” he said.
Singh congratulated the security personnel for their “alertness and unmatched courage”. “Their joint efforts have brought glory to our forces,” he said. Stating that all brave officers and jawans posted at Sumbal camp “need to be cited for their alertness and unmatched bravery”, he made a special mention of the courage displayed by CRPF Commandant Iqbal Ahmad, company commanders Shankarlal Jat and Pankaj Hallu, Guard Commander Pankaj Kumar and constables K Dinesh Raja and Praful Kumar.
The attack at Sumbal came two days after militants attacked an Army convoy in Qazigund, South Kashmir, and killed two soldiers. It is the second fidayeen attack in North Kashmir in the last two months. On April 27, militants stormed the Army’s artillery unit at Panzgam in Kupwara and killed three soldiers, including a captain, and wounded five others. Two militants were killed in the attack.
Meanwhile, people in Sumbal took to the streets to protest against the killing of militants. The protesters clashed with police, who fired teargas shells and pepper grenades.