The two militants who attacked the CRPF convoy near Pampore in south Kashmir on Saturday killing eight were prepared for a long fight given the amount of ammunition they were carrying, say the top brass in the paramilitary force.
The officers also believe that the men may have planned to hole up in nearby structures, most likely a mosque, but
were killed on the spot in a gunfight that lasted less than two minutes.
“The terrorists were carrying 11 AK-47 magazines and seven grenades… Perhaps they wanted to make an escape to some structure nearby and then prolong the fight. Thankfully, all our men were armed as they were returning from target practice and the terrorists were neutralised even before they could lob a grenade,” CRPF DG K Durga Prasad told The Indian Express, lauding his men for having retaliated “with full force” despite suffering casualties.
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A senior CRPF officer from Kashmir said there is a mosque apart from several buildings across the road from where the attack took place. “Had the terrorists not been neutralised and entered the mosque, it could have been disastrous. It would have been very difficult to even retaliate properly in that situation, and the aftermath of neutralising the terrorists could have further flared up sentiments in the Valley,” he said.
The Lashkar-e-Toiba has taken responsibility for the attack, and the CRPF believes the attackers came from across the border. “They had shaved their bodies, a ritual followed by fidayeen attackers. Their appearance betrays they were not local militants. They seem to have infiltrated and then launched an attack,” Prasad said.
While the markings on the seven unexploded grenades had been obliterated, their make seemed similar to those available with the Pakistan Army, CRPF sources said. Since no GPS sets or bags were recovered from the militants, agencies believe the two may have entered the Valley five-10 days ago and reached the spot with the help of another set of terrorists or locals.
The CRPF convoy came under attack as it was taking a turn on a parpendicular bend on the highway and its speed was not more than 3 kmph. Sources said the forces retaliated with a two-pronged attack, from both the bus and the armoured vehicle forming the road opening party.
“The terrorists came from the opposite direction and in the first burst shot at the driver and deflated the bus tyres. They then tried to storm the bus, but were stopped due to strong retaliation from our men,” said a senior CRPF officer from Kashmir.
Senior CRPF officers rushed to Kashmir from Delhi after the incident to take stock and map lapses if any. “As yet, there is no evidence of any lapse on part of the force. But we are examining if all SOPs were followed and whether we need to revise the existing SOPs,” Prasad said.