May 2002 News

Six attacks in six days: Army camps are sitting ducks

20 May 2002
The Hindustan Times

Jammu: Security forces have suffered six terrorist attacks in six days in the Jammu region alone, beginning with the carnage at Kaluchak Army camp on May 14. Thirty-eight people have been killed in these attacks while only four terrorists fell to retaliatory fire. Such attacks have targeted camps that they are either on the roadside or tucked away in the hillocks. Sources say security camps are located on main roads or hillocks to give the forces ''area domination'' and facilitate their mobility in the countryside. In the hills, camps are never situated on hilltops because such a location poses operational difficulties, besides making the camps vulnerable to hi-tech weaponry attack, involving rocket launchers and rifle grenades. But terrorists have been increasingly using the camp locations to their advantage. These dangers get multiplied by the fact that attackers wear combat fatigues and usually strike around dawn, to catch soldiers off- guard. ''They lie low for sometime and one doesn''t know who is who unless they strike. The suicide attacks in Israel are a case in point,'' says Lt. Gen. J. BS Yadava, Corps Commander 16 corps and chairman of the Unified Headquarters in Jammu region. Suicide squads use these geographical and timing disadvantages to plan their acts. While Director General of Police A.K. Suri points out that there have been many instances where such attacks have been prevented and foiled, an army official points out that no security can be foolproof. ''We have to take care that we don''t kill our own men in the confusion,'' points out an officer. Such an incident occurred in Srinagar two years ago when CRPF jawans on duty killed four colleagues mistaking them for suicide attackers. Security forces have taken steps to prevent recurrence of such attacks. The entry of vehicles on the roads opposite cantonments has been restricted. Boundary walls are being raised to heights impossible to scale while barbed wires are being used at strategic points. ‘War last option’ A week after Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah declared that ''war (with Pakistan) is the first option'', he said on Monday ''we will first exhaust all other options before thinking of war. We don''t want war''. He said this after visiting migrant camps in Samba and at Mareen in Hiranagar.


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