A policeman and three militants were killed as security forces battled twin attacks close to an army base in Jammu’s Poonch on Sunday, which also saw soldiers kill four infiltrators in north Kashmir.
The gunfights close to the line of control (LoC) came on the day home minister Rajnath Singh reviewed the security situation in Jammu and Kashmir where the death toll in more than two months of street protests climbed to 78.
In Poonch, havildar Rajinder Kumar was killed when a group of militants fired at a police patrol near the army’s 93 Brigade headquarters at around 7am, deputy inspector general Rajouri-Poonch range Johny Williams said.
“Three fidayeens (suicide attackers) have been gunned down... security forces are sanitising the areas. The ultras were heavily armed and carried grenades also,” the police officer said, adding the militants were trained in Pakistan.
The army, which used drones to keep an eye on the militants and sent in commandos for the final assault, said combing operations would continue Monday morning.
The militants, whose exact numbers were not known, split into two groups after exchange of fire with the police patrol, William said.
One team entered an under-construction mini-secretariat building and the other barged into the house of Mohammed Nazir Mir in the neighbouring Allah Peer locality.
They took Mir and his wife hostage who were rescued by the commandos called in from neighbouring Udhampur, army sources said. Their domestic help was injured in the firing.
Two policemen, an equal number of soldiers and a civilian were also wounded in Poonch.
In north Kashmir, four militants were killed in an overnight gunfight as three infiltration bids were foiled along the LoC, the army said Sunday.
While infiltrators were beaten back in Tangdhar and Gurez sectors, a group managed to sneak through the LoC in Nowgam, where a gunfight broke out near Aatma post on Saturday night and continued in the morning, army spokesman NN Joshi said.
The infiltration bids come just two days after Indian Army chief general Dalbir Singh visited the LoC and north and south Kashmir.
The Centre has asked the army to step up presence in the southern parts, which have seen the worst of the street protests that are in its third month now. The death toll in violence-hit Valley touched 78 on Sunday when a 23-year-old man allegedly injured in firing by security forces in August died in a Srinagar hospital.