SRINAGAR, Aug 26: Eight cops were killed as a group of fidayeen stormed into District Police Lines (DPL) Pulwama in South Kashmir and security forces shot dead three militants in the day long operation to flush them out.
Police sources said that some militants on “suicidal mission” entered police family quarters inside DPL Pulwama at around 4 am today. They said that the police’s SOG, CRPF and Army started clearing the quarters by evacuating families of cops.
“In the process, we suffered some casualties. Unfortunately our four CRPF men and 4 police personnel were martyred and we have searched two blocks so far and two dead bodies of two terrorist were recovered. They have not been identified yet and they look foreign terrorists,” sources said.
Late tonight, security forces shot dead third militant who was trapped in third residential block. The body of the militant was later recovered from the debris during the searches.
Sources said that at least three heavily armed and well-trained fidayeen fired indiscriminately and threw grenades towards CRPF and police and forced their entry into DPL Pulwama. In the initial firing one policeman identified as Imtiyaz Ahmad was killed and six security force personnel were injured.
All the injured were shifted to hospital and later two of them belonging to CRPF succumbed at 92 Base Hospital Srinagar. Another policeman also succumbed to his injuries and the death toll rose to four. Two SPOs of the police were killed inside the building by the militants. Two more CRPF men who were injured succumbed taking death toll of CRPF to four.
As the operation was underway against militants in the day, some youth took to streets in Pulwama town and resorted to heavy stone pelting on police and CRPF. Police retaliated by lobbing dozens of teargas canisters. Authorities sealed off Pulwama town and snapped mobile Internet services across the district as a precautionary measure.
Earlier, General Officer Commanding (GOC) 15 Corps, Lt Gen JS Sandhu while giving details of the attack to the reporters here said that in the early hours this morning, two terrorists entered into the DPL Pulwama and they entered the family quarters and there were a lot of families there. “So, in the initial action, we have lost police constable and two CRPF personnel.. Thereafter, we have brought the families out of those blocks and the troops launched operation to eliminate the terrorists”, he said.
The GOC said army has increased it bases in Shopian, Kulgam and Pulwama to tackle the increased militants in South Kashmir. “Last year the presence of terrorists in South Kashmir had increased and especially in Shopian area, there is a larger presence of terrorists. So, we have to continue operations against them. We have opened new operating bases there – at least about seven to eight new in Shopian, we have also increased operating bases in Pulwama and also in Kulgam. The aim is to try and clear that area of the presence of terrorists”, he said.
Lt Gen Sandhu hoped that those boys who have joined militancy will soon realize that it is not worth it. “Yes, there have been a number of local boys who have joined the terrorists and I hope that in due course they have started realising that it is not worth it”, he said.
The Army Commander said that the situation in Kashmir is much better now and it is improving. “The situation is much better than in the say few months ago or last year. The situation is improving. There is a lot of normal activity which is going on, business activities, people are doing their normal day to day life. The violence levels have reduced to a great extent”, he said.
The GOC said that only few militants have joined Zakir Mussa group of Al-Qaeda. “Zakir Mussa has talked of Ansar Gazwat-ul-Hind, but the presence of this group of Ansar Gazwat-ul-Hind is not very large as of now. There are some persons only who have joined them”, he said.
Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Meanwhile, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley has condoled the death of eight security personnel in a terrorist attack on a police complex in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district.
“My thoughts & prayers are with the families of J&K police & CRPF personnel martyred in the #pulwama encounter,” Jaitley tweeted.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister, Mehbooba Mufti has strongly condemned the killing of jawans of J&K Police and CRPF in a pre-dawn attack at District Police Lines, Pulwama today.
In a statement, Mehbooba said violence of last three decades or more has taken a heavy toll on the people of the State in terms of death and destruction, tearing apart of the social fabric, inflicting massive economic, academic and other losses besides the irreparable loss of human lives.
The Chief Minister paid rich tributes to the slain jawans of the two organisations. She also conveyed her sympathies to the bereaved families of the jawans.