FORTY-EIGHT hours of gunbattle later, the encounter at Pampore, on the outskirts of Srinagar, finally got over late Monday afternoon with the Army killing all three terrorists holed up in the Entrepreneurship Development Institute (EDI) building.
The operation was launched on Saturday evening after the terrorists attacked a CRPF convoy on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway and took refuge in the multi-storey EDI complex.
The Army said the terrorists were foreigners who were well prepared for a long fight, and appeared to be a suicide squad.
General Officer Commanding, Victor Force, Maj Gen Arvind Dutta confirmed that three terrorists had been killed and their weapons and ammunition have been recovered. “The building is being secured and sanitised,” he said in the evening. Three Army commandos were killed in the operation.
On Monday afternoon, the troopers from two units of Para Commandos finally managed to kill the terrorists who had taken refuge on the top floor of the building.
Maj Gen Dutta said EDI is a huge complex — it is housed on approximately 10,000 square feet plinth area, and besides basement, has four storeys, including the ground floor, and a rooftop restaurant. They hid at different places in the building and threw grenades and fired at the first party of CRPF personnel on Saturday.
Four CRPF personnel, including two officers, sustained injuries in the first exchange of fire with the terrorists inside the building on Saturday. The CRPF subsequently withdrew from the ground floor. After establishing a tight cordon, the area was lit up on Sunday night and a Para Commando team was sent to kill the terrorists, Dutta said. “The first team did a marvellous job and Captain Pawan was part of that team,” he said.
He said the army teams successfully maneuvered through the ground, first and second floors. “As our teams were nearing the third floor, from where they wanted to enter the roof, a brief contact was established with the terrorists.” Captain Pawan died in the ensuing firefight, he added. On Sunday, 9 Para Commandos cleared various floors and in that process two commandos — Captain Tushar Mahajan and Lance Naik Om Prakash — lost their lives, Dutta said.
He said the terrorists had come “to do enough damage to us…. There could have been much collateral damage if forces had not exercised caution.”