February 22, 2016 3:55:42 am
Three para commandos, including two officers, were killed while trying to flush out militants from a multi-storey government building in south Kashmir’s Pampore. So far, one militant has been killed in the encounter that started Saturday. Army and police claimed that the operation, which began Saturday, was in its final stages.
Captain Pawan Kumar (23) of the 10 Para, who hailed from Jind, and Captain Tushar Mahajan of the 9 Para, who belonged to Udhampur, were both injured during the encounter and later succumbed at the Army hospital. Army identified another para trooper, who was killed in second assault operation, as Lance Naik Om Prakash of Shimla.
Apart from the Army, the J&K Police’s Special Operation Group and the CRPF are engaged in the operation. On Sunday, top police and Army officials visited the encounter site.
The militants took refuge in the Entrepreneurship Development Institute (EDI) building Saturday after attacking a CRPF convoy on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway, killing two CRPF men and injuring 11 others. Later, the militants allowed more than 100 civilians, most of them EDI employees, to leave the building. One EDI staffer sustained bullet injuries and succumbed after being hit after the evacuation.
There was a heavy exchange of fire when security forces tried to enter the building late Saturday night. Around midnight, Captain Pawan Kumar was hit by bullets inside the complex. He succumbed at the Base hospital in the morning. An Army spokesman said Captain Pawan was leading from the front.
‘’A very brave, intrepid officer with barely three years of service, but maturity beyond his years, he had already been in two successful ops earlier in which three militants were killed,’’ the spokesperson said about Captain Pawan.
Another martyr, Lance Naik Om Prakash, who had served in Army from 13 years, was awarded the “Asadharan Suraksha Seva Praman Patra” by the Prime Minister on August 15, 2013.
As firing continued through the day, Army used UAVs fitted with cameras to pinpoint the location of the militants. In the face of tough resistance, the security forces had reportedly secured major portion of the building.
‘’The operation is still underway,’’ the Army spokesperson told The Indian Express, adding that “with the possibility of some more civilians being trapped not ruled out”, the troops were moving cautiously.
With Army commandos and J&K Police’s SOG engaged in room-to-room search of the EDI complex, an officer told The Indian Express that three to five militants could be hiding in the complex. The attack by the militants was mounted from the top floor of the building.
‘’It is very difficult operation and troops are taking extreme caution,’’ said the officer.
A CRPF spokesman said that the body of one militant had been retrieved from the building. Despite major portion of the building being secured, the operation was likely to continue through the night.
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