Militants who attacked a paramilitary camp in north Kashmir’s Baramulla used civilians to “shield” their escape, police said on Monday, even as the national security advisers of India and Pakistan spoke over phone to reduce hostilities along the de-facto border.
A Border Security Force (BSF) soldier was killed and another jawan wounded after at least six gunmen attacked the 46 Rashtriya Rifles camp in Janbazpora on the outskirts of Baramulla city around 10.30pm on Sunday, triggering retaliation from the forces. The attack continued till 1am.
A “GPS device and wire cutters” were found during a search after the attack, a BSF spokesperson said, indicating that the attackers may have crossed over from across the LoC.
Wire cutters, compass and GPS devices were also recovered after the Uri camp attack, which India blames on the Pakistan based Jaish-e-Mohammed. The Army, however, said the attack was not in “retaliation” to the “surgical strikes” by India across the LoC as the militants may have crossed over “a month or two” ago.
The Baramulla attack came three days after India claimed to have conducted “surgical strikes” to wipe out seven to eight militant launch pads in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).
Army sources said attackers were unlikely to have crossed the LoC in the past few days when vigil along the LoC has been very tight.
Reports of two militants being killed during the attack were untrue, sources said.
Ties between India and Pakistan have nosedived since the September 18 attack on an Indian Army garrison in northern Kashmir’s Uri that killed 19 soldiers. While India has blamed Pakistan-based terrorists for the strike, Islamabad has denied the charges.
North Kashmir DIG Uttam Chand told HT that the militants involved in the Baramulla attack used the large population near the camp as “shield” to escape under the cover of darknes. He said forces could not retaliate heavily as it would have otherwise caused civilian casualties.
The BSF company deployed in Baramulla shares the 46 RR headquarters with the army. At the time of attack both BSF and army men were on guard.
“A massive combing operation is on to nab the attackers,” said Vikas Chandra, the BSF’s inspector general in Srinagar.
Reports said the BSF also foiled an infiltration attempt by a group of 8-10 militants near the Chakri border out post (BoP), 30 km from Gurdaspur in Punjab.
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s top diplomat Sartaj Aziz said the NSAs of both countries have spoken to reduce hostilities along the LoC.
A home ministry spokesperson in New Delhi confirmed the telephonic discussion.
Aziz, the adviser to prime minister on foreign affairs, told Geo.tv that Pakistan wants to “reduce tensions on LoC”, and added Pakistani NSA Nasser Janjua and his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval have stressed the need to establish contact.
Aziz, however, alleged that India was escalating tensions with Pakistan “to deflect the attention of the world from Kashmir issue”.
Aziz’s comments came even as India started moving heavy artillery guns close to LoC.
“We have been anticipating that they will open mortar fire on our posts and forward villages on the ridge. Amid escalating tensions with a rogue and deceitful country like Pakistan where the army is in charge, we have to be cautious and well prepared. So, we moved artillery guns close to the border,” a defence source said.