February 2018 News

JeM Fidayeens Attack Military Stn: 2 Jawans, 2 Militants Killed; CO, Major Among 9 Injured

10 February 2018
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: Militants today attacked highly fortified Sunjuwan Military Station, close to Jammu City, and targeted family quarters of the Army personnel in which two soldiers including a Junior Commissioned Officer (JCO) and a Non Commissioned Officer (NCO) were martyred and nine others, including a Commanding Officer (CO), a Major, five women and two children were injured, two of them seriously. Army continued operations inside the Military Station, where Para Commandos were flown from Udhampur this morning to eliminate the fidayeens, who belonged to Jaish-e-Mohammad and attacked the Army Station at 4.55 am after entering the Station from rear side trekking through a Nullah linked to 'Tootan Wali Khud', reportedly by cutting the fence. 'The militants didn't enter inside the Military Station through any Gate, which were being well-guarded and instead were reported to have used rear side of the Station, linked to an isolated Nullah to enter inside and target the family quarters, where mostly unarmed Army personnel and their family members were putting up,' sources told the Excelsior. Army suffered its all casualties (both fatal and non-fatal) in the initial rounds of firing by the fidayeens after which troops surrounded the militants and tried to isolate them by tactfully evicting families of the soldiers, mostly women and children to safer locations. Immediately, the Military Station was put on high alert and the troops sounded families of the Army soldiers to confine themselves inside till they are evicted. Late tonight, Army also moved tanks inside the Military Station. Helicopters were also pressed into service. In late night briefing, Army's Public Relations Officer (PRO) Lt Col Devender Anand said Army has killed two heavily armed terrorists during the ongoing day-long operations in Sunjuwan. 'The terrorists wearing combat dresses were carrying AK-56 assault rifles, large number of ammunition and hand grenades. Search of their belongings confirmed that the terrorists belonged to Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM)', Lt Col Yadav said. He said operations are in progress with extreme caution and restraint to safeguard unarmed soldiers, women and children in the house. Most of over 150 houses in the complex have been cleared and occupants moved to safety, he added. The Defence PRO said so far, one JCO and one NCO, both belonging to Jammu and Kashmir, have been martyred and nine others including five women and two children, were injured, two of them being critical. 'Operations will continue till all the terrorists are apprehended or killed,' Lt Col Anand said. He added: 'in the early hours today after a brief exchange of fire with the Sentry on the periphery, some terrorists entered the family accommodation complex in Sunjuwan military camp. The Quick Reaction Teams immediately cordoned off the areas and isolated the terrorists, who were holed up in a few houses. Due to presence of women and children in the housing colony, the operations were undertaken very cautiously to minimize casualties'. According to sources, exact number of militants is being ascertained. However, it was believed to be between two to four. Though two militants have been eliminated, Army was not taking any chance and continued searches in the entire Military Camp especially around the family quarters, where the militants were spotted initially. The operations will continue throughout the night and Army have installed large generator sets inside the Military Station to lit up the area for maintaining strict surveillance on the militants, if any, still inside the Station. Honorary Lt Madan Lal Chaudhary, 50, a resident of village Khanpur in Hiranagar tehsil of Kathua district and Havaldar Habibullah Qureshi, 42, R-o Batpora, Kupwara attained martyrdom in the fidayeen attack. Injured included Col Rohit Solanki (Officiating CO), Major Avijit Singh, Lance Naik Bahadur Singh, Havaldar Abdul Hamid Rashid, Paramjeet Kour, 40, relative of Madan Lal Choudhary, Neha, 20, daughter of Madan Lal Choudhary, Somati Jena son of Havaldar Haripoda Jena, wife and daughter of Havaldar Satyendra. Major Avijit Singh and Havaldar Abdul Hamid Rashid had sustained head injuries. Sources said recoveries made from the possession of militants including some flags have confirmed the involvement of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) outfit in the fidayeen attack on Military Station. Admitting that it was a major lapse on part of police that the militants managed to reach Sunjuwan, sources said it would be ascertained during investigations the area from where the militants had come and route taken by them to reach the Military Station. 'Both Line of Control (LoC) and International Border (IB) have quite a large distance from Sunjuwan Military Station. Another possibility is that the militants might have come from Kashmir. In all the cases, they could have travelled several kilometers to reach Sunjuwan along with arms, ammunition and explosives,' sources said, adding that this required thorough investigations as during Nagrota attack also, such a lapse had surfaced. The previous fidayeen attack had taken place on November 29, 2016 in which seven Army soldiers including two officers and three fidayeens were killed. Army helicopters and drones were pressed into service by the Army during the day to ascertain the exact location of the terrorists, sources said. While there was no action around the main entrance and vehicles were moving along the Narwal Bypass in front of the camp, Army personnel in bullet-proof vehicles were engaged in the operation to rescue people from the family quarters in the rear side of the base. A final assault against the holed-up terrorists was launched once the rescue operation was over. Contingents of para-military CRPF and police personnel were posted outside the boundary wall and were keeping curious onlookers at bay to avoid civilian casualties. Generators and searchlights were brought to the camp, apparently for the operations during night. IGP Jammu Zone Dr SD Jamwal, DIG Jammu Rafeeq-ul-Hassan, SSP Jammu Vivek Gupta, SP City South Sandeep Chaudhary and SDPO East Arun Jamwal kept camping at the site of attack maintaining vigil on the situation. Police restricted movement of traffic and civilians in the area while civil administration ordered closure of educational institutions falling around the terror attack site. Soon after the attack, reinforcements of the Army's Special Forces (Para Commandos) were airlifted from Udhampur while Special Operations Group (SOG) rushed to the spot and cordoned off the area. A high alert has been sounded in Jammu and security beefed up in and around the city. Intelligence inputs had warned of an attack on an Army or security establishment by Jaish-e-Mohammed in view of the death anniversary of Afzal Guru who was hanged on February 9, 2013. Union Home Minister, Rajnath Singh this morning spoke to Director General of Police (DGP) Dr SP Vaid and took stock of the situation. During the telephonic conversation, he sought details on the militant attack, according to a tweet by the Home Minister's Office. 'The DGP has apprised him of the situation. The MHA is closely monitoring the situation,' the tweet read. Rajnath later said the Army and other security forces were effectively doing their job and would never let any Indian bow down his head. 'Rest assuredOur Army and security forces are effectively accomplishing their job and handling their responsibility. They will never let any Indian bow down his head,' he said.