13 jawans, 3 civilians killed in Lashkar ambush
18 November 2001
The Hindustan Times
Jammu: After a brief lull, terrorists struck again in Jammu and Kashmir. At least 13 soldiers and three civilians were killed and 40 others injured, a majority of them armymen, in an attack by Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Tayyeba militants near Ramban, on the Jammu-Srinagar highway, about 150 km north of Jammu on Sunday. An Indian Army spokesman said that three Lashkar terrorists were killed in the gun battle. The Lashkar terrorists posing as groundnut sellers came up to a bridge, which is exclusively used by the Army for moving its troops and equipment. The terrorists then hurled grenades on a group of soldiers who were crossing the bridge over the Chenab River. The incident took place at around 3 p.m. on Sunday. the Lashkar men apparently waited for the Army convoy to slow down near the bridge before launching their attack. Official sources said the attack came when soldiers began to get down from their vehicles and started crossing the bridge on foot as the bridge was too weak to bear the weight of both vehicles and passengers together. The terrorists, who stood near the carts of groundnut sellers on the southern end of the bridge, started hurling grenades at the soldiers. At the same time, their accomplices who were stationed on nearby hilltops joined the ambush. They opened heavy fire at the soldiers and civilians. This is the first attack of its kind on the highway where troop movement is particularly heavy. Troops move back and forth on the Jammu-Srinagar highway every day as the 294-km highway leads to the northernmost frontiers in Jammu and Kashmir. Police sources in Jammu said that the whole area has been cordoned off and a massive combing operation launched to catch the terrorists. The Lashkar has claimed responsibility for the attack. The group spokesman said that two militants were involved in the attack and both of them were safe. The security forces have sounded a red alert across the state. Elsewhere, Indian border guards on Sunday killed six terrorists trying to cross into the Poonch district of Indian-ruled Kashmir from Pakistan, a Defence Ministry spokesman said. Indian Army Lieutenant General J.R. Mukherjee said on Sunday that Pakistan would try to push members of the defeated Taliban militia into J&K after the fall of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.