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JAMMU: In a pre-dawn fidayeen attack on Saturday, a group of heavily armed Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorists struck at an Army camp in Sunjuwan town on national highway 1A connecting Jammu to Srinagar, killing two officers and injuring nine others, including a Colonel and a girl child.
Three of the terrorists were neutralised in the Army operation which is still on. Most of the camp residents in over 150 houses were evacuated to flush out other terrorists. Sources said choppers and drones were used to keep track of the movement of the terrorists. IAF para commandos were airlifted to Jammu from Udhampur and Sarsawa.
Intel sources said the attack on Army’s residential complex bears the stamp of Jaish-e-Mohammad. It coincided with the fifth anniversary of the hanging of Afzal Guru, a convict in the 2001 Parliament attack by Jaish, on Friday. Soldiers and their families were sleeping when the terrorists struck in the dark, firing indiscriminately.
The martyred Army officers have been identified as Havaldar Mohammad Ashraf Mir and JCO Madan Lal Choudhary. The JCO’s daughter, Neha, is among the injured.
Defence spokesperson Col N N Joshi said the injured included five women and children. Two of them are critical. “Due to presence of women and children in the housing colony, the operations are being progressed cautiously to minimise casualties,” the defence statement said. This is the second fidayeen attack on the camp. A dozen soldiers were killed when the same camp was attacked by terrorists on June 28, 2003.
Dressed in combat fatigues, the terrorists took strategic position in the housing area of the camp and engaged security forces in fierce gunbattle through the day on Saturday. A reinforcement of Army’s Special Forces and SOG rushed to the camp and cordoned off the whole area amid heavy firing.
IGP Jammu Zone SD Singh Jamwal said around 4.50-4.55am, a group of terrorists barged into the camp, just 8 km from the J&K legislative assembly building. He said the exact number of terrorists is not ascertained yet. Sources said five to six terrorists may have entered the camp through an open culvert. On noticing suspicious movement, the guard on duty opened fire, the IGP said. Following a brief exchange of fire, the terrorists rushed to the nearby family quarters.
J&K parliamentary affairs minister Abdul Rehman Veeri informed the House that both the Army officers killed in the attack are from the state. Four of the injured, Col Rohit Solanki, Havaldar Abdul Hamid, Lance Naik Bahadur Singh and Neha, were shifted to Government Medical College here.
The camp is spread over many acres of land along the busy national highway. It is located adjacent to several residential colonies, shopping arcades, motor showrooms and private schools on the bypass. Following the terror attack, Jammu has been put on high alert while all educational institutions within half a kilometre radius of the camp were closed for the day. Col Joshi said the slain terrorists were carrying AK-56 assault rifles and large amount of ammunition and hand grenades. Belongings of the slain terrorists confirmed they were from Jaish-e-Mohammed.