April 2001 News

Army Captain, 3 soldiers killed by Lashkar

14 April 2001
The Asian Age
Yusuf Jameel

Srinagar: Captain Mukesh Rathod and three soldiers were killed and six others wounded in a surprise attack by militants on their camp at Sogam in the Lolab Valley of Kashmir early on Saturday. The police said that a heavily armed group of fidayeen belonging to Lashkar-e-Tayyaba attacked the 32 Rashtriya Rifles camp shortly after midnight using rockets and small arms fire. First, they targeted the camp’s sentry, killing him instantly. When the soldiers present in the camp retaliated, the fidayeen hid themselves behind bushes and continued to aim at the camp from a distance. A short while later, Captain Rathod and his men came out of the barracks to take on the attackers but laid down their lives in the ensuing encounter, the police said. The other slain soldiers have been identified as S. Vijayan, Shailender Bhadur and Sheetal Chotry. Six other soldiers were injured. The police and Army officials admitted that the fidayeen escaped from the scene. Lashkar-e-Tayyaba claimed responsibility for carrying out the attack and claimed that, at least, a dozen soldiers were killed. The fidayeen — Abu Zarar and Abu Osman — took away the rifle from one of the slain soldiers as a “booty,” the Lashkar told vernacular newspapers. In neighbouring Baramulla district, three militants and two soldiers were killed and a soldier was wounded in a fierce firing on Saturday afternoon. Two civilians were also injured in the incident which occurred at Binner Kahdoora, 10 km from district headquarters at Baramulla. The police said that slain soldiers belonged to 8 J&K Rifles. The identity of the militants could not be ascertained immediately. The encounter at Binner Kahdoora came a few hours after the soldiers shot dead two civilians, Gulam Hassan Alai and Muhammad Sultan Alai, allegedly, inside their houses at Waripora Kreri in the same district. However, a police spokesperson said they were caught in crossfire between militants and the soldiers. Thousands of agitating villagers on Saturday took to the streets in the area protesting the killing of the civilians. They alleged that in reprisal to a militant ambush the members of 29 Rashriya Rifles barged into private houses and shot at six persons, two of whom died instantly. The mourners squatted on the Srinagar-Baramulla highway raising pro-freedom and pro-Islam slogans disrupting vehicular movement. Several Hurriyat Conference leaders visited the area on Saturday afternoon to show sympathy. Mr Gulam Nabi Sumji, a senior leader of Hurriyat Conference, who visited the area said that a 40-year woman Aaisha alleged that soldiers committed rape on her. He accused the Army of molesting womenfolk in the area. The police spokesperson said that an ambush party of the Army came under firing from militants at Waripora Payeen. In the crossfire, two civilians died and two more were injured. He said a case had been registered by the police and that senior police officers including the senior superintendent of police at Baramulla were on the spot “looking into the circumstances leading to the incident.”


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