JAMMU, Jan 9: Three civilian porters working with GREF were killed and another injured when militants attacked a GREF camp at Battal in Jogma area under the jurisdiction of Khour police station in Akhnoor tehsil at 1.30 am. Though the security personnel have cordoned off the area and were conducting searches, there was no trace of the militants.
Sources said the militants, who were believed to be between two and three, opened heavy firing on the GREF camp, which was located just about two kilometers from the Line of Control (LoC), at 1.30 am killing three civilian porters and injuring another inside their barrack.
As the light went off immediately in the area, a number of unarmed GREF personnel managed to hide themselves and survived the attack. Reportedly, there was no retaliation to the militant attack.
After killing, three GREF personnel, the militants reportedly took diesel, threw them on parked vehicles and tried to set them on fire. However, the vehicles didn’t catch fire. The militants torched some beds, clothes, record and furniture inside the barrack before fleeing from the camp.
The terrorists were reportedly inside the camp for half an hour but fortunately, they didn’t enter the barrack where the GREF personnel had hidden themselves though they opened another barrack.
The militants took away one mobile telephone from the camp.
Some Army camps were ahead of the GREF camp and the troops immediately responded to the situation by rushing to the spot but by then the militants had managed to escape from the camp.
The civilian porters killed in the terror attack have been identified as Salman Khan, 21, son of Mujibur Rahman R/o Mandhata, Pratapgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Irshad Alam, 21, son of Mohammad Abdul Gaffar R/o Dharpur, Partapgarh, Uttar Pradesh and Romesh Topno son of Sushil Topno R/o Gamala, Jharkhand. The injured labourer has been identified as Abdul Aziz son of Sajjad Ali R/o Partapgarh, Uttar Pradesh.
Recoveries made from the spot included one kg almonds, four magazines, three grenades, three bottles of incendiary chemical, two combat jackets etc.
Army and police later launched massive search operation in the area but there was no trace of the militants. Reportedly, they had managed to escape after the firing.
GOC 16 Corps Lt Gen AK Sharma and GOC Akhnoor Division Major General Harsh Gupta visited the spot along with senior police officers for investigations. Searches, however, continued for the militants.
Local people initially thought that Pakistan had violated ceasefire. However, as the firing prolonged, the people were panicked as they realised that it was a major terrorist attack. Locals said they heard the gun shots for half an hour and after that there was a lull.
There was no mobile telephone communication in the area, the locals said, adding they have repeatedly been asked for construction of a mobile tower in the village so that they could communicate but there demand hasn’t been heeded.
“Had there been mobile tower, we would have immediately sounded an alert,’’ they said.
Sources said there was an Ikhni Nullah close to the GREF camp and it was believed that the militants had taken that route to infiltrate into the Indian territory. However, investigations were still on whether the militants had infiltrated from Pakistan side.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has condemned the militant attack on a GREF camp at Akhnoor.
Speaking during the Adjournment Motion in the Legislative Assembly today, the Chief Minister underscored the need for working together to end the cycle of violence and bloodshed in the State.
Mehbooba conveyed her sympathies with the families of slain GREF workers.