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Three militants who tried to storm a BSF camp in a highly fortified area near the Srinagar international airport and an air force station were killed by security forces on Tuesday in a nine-hour gunbattle, officials said. The operation also led to the death of a BSF officer, they said.
Following the attack, flight operations at the airport were suspended for a while, marking the first such disruption since a terrorist attack in 2001. Officials said that Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad has claimed responsibility for the attack. The counter-attack was led by BSF IG Sonali Mishra, officials said. This was the second time in the last eight days that militants had tried to target a strategic location in the Valley. On September 26, four militants tried to target the 76 Artillery unit on the Uri-Kaman road before being killed by security forces close to the Line of Control (LoC).
On Tuesday, officials said, bodies of the three attackers were recovered from the inner and outer perimeter of the 182 Battalion camp, which is situated on a plateau adjacent to the airport. “All the three militants were fidayeen and their aim was to inflict major damage. One of them was neutralised initially and the other two were contained in the camp so they could not inflict any major damage. Both were later killed,’’ a senior BSF officer told The Indian Express.
Official sources said the militants in camouflage gear were spotted near the camp around 4 am by sentries. “They challenged the militants, and the others at the camp followed Standard Operating Procedure to contain the three within that area. Two militants entered the camp, but the forces contained them till Quick Reaction Teams (QRTs) of J&K Police, Army and CRPF reached the spot,’’ an officer said.
Providing details of the attack, officials said the militants opened indiscriminate fire and lobbed hand grenades after entering the camp. After one of them was killed, the other two took shelter in the administrative block nearby and the JCO mess at the camp.
“A BSF ASI was martyred and three others were injured. The militants entered the camp by cutting through the camp’s fence. The operation could have ended quicker if aerial weapons were used. But due to presence of civilians, it was avoided,” said IGP Kashmir Muneer Ahmad Khan, who spoke to reporters along with IG Mishra.
“The Jaish militants are a threat because they believe in such fidayeen attacks. We are now looking for at least seven Jaish militants in the Valley, who need to be eliminated fast,’’ said Khan.
In August, eight security force personnel were killed when three fidayeen militants entered the District Police Lines, a high-security zone, in Pulwama town and targeted buildings used by J&K Police’s Special Operation Group (SOG). That attack was also claimed by the Jaish.