Three more soldiers and a civilian were found dead inside the residential quarters at Sunjuwan Military Station on Sunday, taking the toll in the terrorist attack on the Army camp to six. The camp came under attack before dawn on Saturday, and three suspected terrorists of the Jaish-e-Muhammad had been killed by Sunday evening.
Late on Sunday night, the Army launched a “clearing” operation, firing mortar shells at the vacated residential quarters at the military camp, setting them ablaze. “The Army has launched a fire assault as a part of a sanitisation and clearing operation. There was no exchange of fire,” PTI quoted a Jammu-based Army public relations officer as saying.
Earlier in the day, the Army said in a written statement: “During the sanitising of residential quarters by Indian Army commandos, the bodies of one more JCO (Junior Commissioned Officer), two jawans, and an elderly man, the father of a soldier, have been recovered, all of whom were killed by the terrorists in the initial stage yesterday.” A JCO and a jawan had been confirmed killed on the first day of the attack on by suspected terrorists of the camp of the 36 Brigade of the Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry. All those killed were residents of Jammu and Kashmir, the Army statement said. Four of the killed soldiers were from Kashmir, the fifth was from Kathua in Jammu, it said.
The Army has identified the deceased soldiers as Subedar (Hony Lieutenant) Madan Lal Choudhary, 50, of Kathua district’s Bakrak village; Subedar Mohammad Ashraf Mir, 43, of Maidan Pora village, and Havildar Habibullah Quereshi, 38, of Batpora village, both in Kupwara district; Lance Naik Mohammad Iqbal, 32, of Nigeen Pora in Pulwama district; and Lance Naik Manzoor Ahmed Deva, 32, of Kewer village in Anantnag district. Lance Naik Iqbal’s father is the civilian casualty.
Ten people were injured — six of them women, including one who is pregnant, and children. A 14-year-old boy with a gunshot wound in the head is in a critical condition, the Army statement said. All three terrorists killed were wearing military fatigues and were heavily armed. AK-56 assault rifles, under barrel grenade launchers, ammunition and grenades have been recovered from them, the Army said.
Intelligence inputs had warned of an attack on an Army or security establishment by the Pakistan-based Jaish around the death anniversary of Afzal Guru, who was hanged on February 9, 2013, for the December 2001 attack on Parliament House. Army Chief General Bipin Rawat was briefed in Jammu about the operation by senior Army commanders on Sunday. The Army Chief made an aerial survey of the area before flying to Delhi.
Senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad visited the injured at the military hospital. Later, addressing a Congress convention at the Dusshera Ground in Gandhi Nagar in Jammu, Azad criticised the four-year rule of the BJP government at the Centre, saying a record number of terrorist attacks and incidents of Pakistani shelling had taken place during this period.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi condemned the terrorist attack and said all Indians across political lines stood united behind the men and women of the Indian Army.
Officials of the National Investigation Agency and the state police, including Inspector General of Police (Jammu Zone), Dr S D Singh Jamwal, visited the areas at the back of the Sunjuwan Military Station to investigate how the terrorists had managed to sneak into the highly fortified Army camp. The camp, which is spread over a radius of nearly 7 km, is surrounded by densely inhabited residential areas.
The military station’s boundary wall is damaged at various places, and tin sheets have been placed on the damaged portions. The terrorists are suspected to have entered through one such damaged portion near a nullah flowing on the side of the Bhatindi-Sunjuwan Road.
Sources in the police said the terrorists appeared to have recceed the area well. After entering the premises, they straightway moved towards the family quarters. Terrorists who had managed to enter the camp and kill nearly a dozen soldiers in 2003, too, had entered from this part of the camp.
On Sunday, Pakistan rejected allegations that it was involved in the attack, and accused officials and the media in India of making “irresponsible” statements even before investigation had been initiated. “It is a well established pattern that Indian officials begin making irresponsible statements and levelling unfounded allegations, even before any proper investigation in any incident has been initiated,” the Pakistan Foreign Office spokesperson said.
By evening, life around the military station had returned to normal, with shops and businesses open and traffic plying normally.
(With PTI inputs)