FOUR SOLDIERS were killed in a militant attack on an Army camp in Rajouri district of Jammu early on Thursday, just four days ahead of Independence Day. Both the militants involved in the attack were gunned down in the four-hour firefight that followed, the Army said.
The four dead soldiers have been identified as Subedar Rajendra Prasad (48) from Jhunjhunu district of Rajasthan, Rifleman Manoj Kumar (26) from Faridabad district of Haryana, Rifleman D Lakshmanan (24) from Madurai district of Tamil Nadu and Rifleman Nishant Malik (21) from Hisar district of Haryana. Two more soldiers were injured in the attack, which began shortly after 2 am.
Giving details of the attack, Defence PRO Lt Colonel Devender Anand said: “In the early hours of Thursday, alert sentries of the Indian Army post at Parghal, in Darhal area of Rajouri district, detected suspicious persons approaching their post, taking advantage of the inclement weather and dense foliage.”
He said the soldiers challenged the two militants who lobbed grenades while attempting to gain entry inside the post. The security personnel then cordoned the area and engaged them in a firefight, he said. “Six soldiers of the Indian Army were injured in the operation and of them, three bravehearts succumbed to their injuries while repulsing this suicide attack by militants,” he said, adding that the two militants were killed. The fourth soldier succumbed to his injuries later in the day.
According to officials and eyewitnesses, the first gunshot was heard around 2 am when the militants attempted to breach the external fence of the camp.
Two AK-47 rifles along with nine magazines and 300 rounds, five grenades and other “administrative stores’’ were recovered. Sources said some of the seized bullets were colour-coded, indicating that they were ammunition piercing and incendiary rounds.
PTI quoted J&K Director General of Police Dilbag Singh as saying that the two militants were suspected to be from the Jaish-e-Mohammed. Rajouri SSP Mohammad Aslam said the militants appeared to be foreigners, but were yet to be identified.
Sources said the security forces had been put on alert after some residents reported to have seen two suspicious persons in Darhal bazaar on Tuesday. A cordon-and-search operation was launched in the area, but the men could not be tracked, they said.
With heightened security in view of the Amarnath Yatra, which is ending Friday, and Independence Day celebrations, the militants are suspected to have sneaked into Darhal from adjoining Shopian district of Kashmir much earlier, said sources.
At a media briefing on the arrest of a Lashkar-e-Toiba commander, Talib Shah, in Reasi district last month, Additional Director General of Police, Jammu, Mukesh Singh had mentioned that two militants were suspected to be in the Pir Panjal area. According to him, Shah had told police that he had got the militants from Kashmir side.
Condemning the attack, J&K Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha tweeted on Thursday: “Heartfelt condolences to the families of the bravehearts martyred in the attack. We shall deal with evil designs of terrorists and their backers in a befitting manner.”
The attack comes just over a week after two Jammu Kashmir Ghaznavi Force (JKGF) militants hurled a crude grenade at a police barrack in Ramban district on August 2. While both the militants were arrested, police had said they were looking for some more suspects, including a person who allegedly gave Rs 50,000 to the militants for carrying out the attack.