Three Army personnel including a Captain were killed and five others injured when heavily armed militants sneaked into an artillery camp after snipping perimeter wire fences and opened fire in the early hours of Thursday in Panzgam in Kupwara district of north Kashmir.
Two militants were gunned down by troops while a third slipped away, leaving behind his weapon. Officers said there was every possibility that the militants had come from across the Line of Control.
Panzgam is located close to the LoC on the Kupwara-Chowkidar highway, around 20 km from Kupwara town, and houses the rear base — administrative and logistics base for units operationally deployed on the LoC — of nine Army units. The camp is marked by two tiers of barbed-wire fencing, separated by 50-100 metres.
The personnel killed in the attack were identified as Captain Ayush Yadav (26), Subedar Bhoop Singh Gujjar (46) and Naik Bhoota Venkata Ramanna (38). The five who were injured were flown to the Army Base Hospital at the Badami Bagh Cantonment in Srinagar.
Colonel Saurav Joshi, Commanding Officer, Artillery Regiment, said three militants sneaked into the camp from the rear end and began moving towards the residential areas of the camp.
“The militants, who entered the camp after cutting the barbed wire (fencing), were engaged by soldiers. Two militants were killed after intense firing. Another militant who was injured managed to escape, taking advantage of the dark,” he said.
Joshi said three AK-47 rifles were recovered after the gunbattle. “The injured militant will be tracked down soon. The Army is trying to ascertain the identities of the slain militants. They could be foreigners,’’ he said.
The attack took place around 4.30 am. The militants, who were dressed in black Pathani suits with camouflage-pattern sleeveless jackets, had breached two layers of fencing. They fired an Under Barrel Grenade Launcher (UBGL) which led to the death of Naik Bhoota Venkata who was in the perimeter patrol team.
The militants then moved towards the shelters where officers were staying and opened fire. A Quick Response Team engaged the militants. In the encounter that followed, Captain Ayush Yadav and Subedar Bhoop Singh Gujjar lost their lives while five other soldiers were injured.
No backpacks were found on the dead militants. During the search, three AK-47 rifles were recovered, along with nine magazines and 156 rounds, one Chinese pistol, one UBGL, two GPS sets and a smartphone. The recovery of three AK-47 pointed to the presence of at least another militant who managed to escape.