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SUNJUWAN(Jammu): Launching a “clearing” operation, the Army on Sunday fired mortar shells at the vacated residential quarters of the Sunjuwan military camp, setting them ablaze, a day after the pre-dawn audacious strike at the military station by suspected Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorists.
Earlier, Army spokesperson Lt Col Devender Anand said the Army found the bodies of three of its personnel and a civilian, taking the toll to six in the attack, and gunned down three terrorists.
On the clearing operation launched tonight, he said there was no exchange of fire.
“The Army has launched a fire assault as a part of a sanitisation and clearing operation. There was no exchange of fire,” the Jammu-based Army PRO told PTI.
A police official said, “Fresh gunfire took place and mortar shells were launched at the quarters vacated by the Army. It resulted in eruption of fire at the quarters.”
Lt Col Anand said five Army men, including two junior commissioned officers (JCOs), and the father of a soldier were killed in the attack by the terrorists who struck at the sprawling camp of the 36 Brigade of the Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry (JKLI) yesterday.
In a statement, he said three heavily armed terrorists were killed in the operation.
While two were gunned down on Saturday, the body a third terrorist was found today, he said, adding they were in combat gear.
The Army spokesperson said that AK-56 rifles, an under barrel grenade launcher, ammunition and grenades were from them.
Earlier in the day, Jammu and Kashmir Director General of Police (DGP) SP Vaid had said that four terrorists had been killed.
In Delhi, Home Minister Rajnath Singh exuded confidence that the operation against terrorists would be successfully concluded.
“I think it is not proper for me to comment when the operation is still on. I’m sure that our jawans, who are in the operation, will successfully conclude it,” he told reporters.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi condemned the attack and said all Indians across political lines stand united with the Army men and women.
Giving details, Lt Col Anand said, “So far, six fatal causalities have occurred. They include two JCOs, three jawans and one civilian dependent, all residents of Jammu and Kashmir.”
Ten people, including Major Avijit Singh, have been injured of which six are women and children, he said.
One of the injured women was pregnant and she later delivered a baby girl through a caesarean operation, he said, adding both the mother and child were stable.
A 14-year-old boy had suffered a gunshot wound to the head and was in a critical condition, the spokesperson said.
Those killed were identified as Subedar Madan Lal Choudhary, Subdebar Mohmmad Ashraf Mir, Havaldar Habib-Ullah Qurashi, Naik Manzoor Ahmed, Lance Naik Mohmmad Iqbal — all from the JAKLI, besides the father of Lance Naik Mohmmad Iqbal, he said.
The officer said that a search operation of the family quarters in the Army complex for evacuation of people and to ascertain the situation was underway.
A number of families were still in the camp and the Army’s aim was to ensure their safety, he said.
Vaid said that investigation is on to find out where from the terrorists came.
“Whether they infiltrated from Pakistan or came from Kashmir is being investigated,” the DGP said.
A National Investigation Agency (NIA) team on Sunday visited the camp and examined the evidence collected by the Army from the site of the gun battle, an official said.
The latest attack on the camp took place nearly 15 months after the Jammu region was hit by a similar attack.
On November 29, 2016, terrorists had stormed the Army’s Nagrota camp on the outskirts of the city, killing seven personnel, including two officers. Three terrorists were gunned down in the operation.
Yesterday, the terrorists had struck before dawn and managed to sneak into the camp from the rear end of the base after a brief exchange of fire with the sentry guarding the periphery.
“The terrorists entered the family accommodation complex after which quick response teams cordoned off the area and isolated the terrorists, who were holed up in a few houses (inside the camp),” an official said.
While there was no action around the main entrance and vehicles were moving along the Jammu-Lakhanpur 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.
Contingents of CRPF and police were posted outside the boundary wall and were keeping curious onlookers at bay to prevent civilian casualties.
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 the Pakistan-based JeM in view of the death anniversary of Afzal Guru, who was hanged on February 9, 2013, for the 2001 attack on Parliament House.