Srinagar: The Army today said that the 48-hour-long gunbattle between security forces and the terrorists in Pampore town of Jammu and Kashmir has ended and that three militants have been so far been neutralised. As per a senior Army official, search and sanitisation operations are still on to ensure that there are no more terrorists holed up in the building.
The gunbattle, that began on Saturday, has seen five Army soldiers been martyred. "I salute the martyrs, the bravery they showed was commendable," said Major General Arvind Dutta, GoC, Victor Force.
"Three militantas have been killed, and a huge cache of arms and ammunition has been recovered from them. As per inputs till now, the attackers seem to be foreign militants and their identities are being asceratined with the help of the police," Major General Dutta, told media today, adding that the search operations were still on.
On a question that the attackers were Fidayeeen, Maj Gen Dutta said the way the operation was carried out by the militants suggested thast they belonged to a suicide squad. The official also did not rule out the possibility of the militants having conducted a recce of the building under seige earlier, though he said that is usually not the modus operandi adopted by foreign militants.
Intermittent exchange of fire began this morning between security forces and holed up militants in Pampore town of Kashmir. "Intermittent firing exchanges have started at the JKEDI (Jammu and Kashmir Entrepreneurship Development Institute) complex in Pampore on Monday morning. The hiding militants are heavily armed, but they have been surrounded from all sides and their escape is ruled out," a senior police official said.
So far, six people including a civilian, three army soldiers including two captains, and two paramilitary troopers of the central reserve police force (CRPF) have been killed in this gunfight. The slain people include Abdul Gani Mir of Gundipora Pulwama, JKEDI gardener, captain Pawan Kumar of 10 para regiment belonging to Jind (Haryana), captain Tushar Mahajan of nine para regiment belonging to Udhampur town of Jammu region, Lance naik Om Prakash of nine para regiment, head constable Bhola Prasad and driver constable RK Rana, both of the CRPF.
A CRPF spokesman who initially told reporters that a guerrilla had been killed in the gunfight later denied it saying there had been some confusion about it.
"Now the terrorists have taken position in the main building. It is a huge campus. Operations going on with full synergy.All civilians evacuated. 2 main buildings cleared. Each of the floor has to be cleared room by room, so specialized units are required to clear it," Lt. Gen Satish Dua said.
"There is no time limit. There's no hurry. Our main purpose is to make sure that we don't have any more casualties. We will take as long as it takes to clear the building. Our specialized units are in contact, with complete synergy with the CRPFs on the outside," he added.
A total of 13 other security men have so far been injured in the gunfight that started on Saturday when guerrillas attacked a CRPF bus on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway at Sempora in the district.
After attacking the bus that was part of the CRPF convoy, the group of three to five heavily-armed guerrillas, said to be of the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), had entered the JKEDI complex where around 120 staff members were inside the complex.
All the civilians were safely evacuated before the operation was started by the security forces against the holed up guerrillas. Security forces pressed drones into service to pinpoint the exact location of the guerrillas inside the building whose top floor has already been destroyed in the fire caused by the use of explosives to flush out the militants.
A senior police officer said the security forces have entered the ground floor, while the guerrillas are in the upper floors.
Meanwhile, authorities on Monday imposed restrictions in Pampore town where dozens of protesters yesterday indulged in heavy stone pelting as they tried to march towards the gunfight site.