Three militants were killed as a 48-hour long gunfight between “foreign attackers” and security forces in south Kashmir’s Pampore neared a close on Monday, with a top Indian Army officer saying combing operations were on to check for more gunmen.
“The process of securing and sanitising the building (the militants were holed up in) is on… It is possible there are more people remaining, but the three militants we had information about have been shot dead,” Major General Arvind Dutta told reporters.
“Inputs suggest they were foreign militants. We are trying to ascertain their identities. The attack indicates they were on a suicide mission,” he said.
Six people, including five security personnel, have been killed in the standoff between the militants and the security forces at the Jammu and Kashmir Entrepreneurship Development Institute complex.
“Firing exchanges have stopped and room-to-room searches of the multi-storeyed building where the militants were hiding are going on,” a senior police officer said.
The gunfight started on Saturday evening, when the militants took shelter in the JKEDI complex after attacking a CRPF bus at Sempora, Pampore, on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway.
“They came to cause heavy damage… They were trying to provoke us to fire at them in an area heavily populated by civilians. Had we not exercised restraint, there could have been big collateral damage,” Dutta said.
“The Lashkar-e-Taiba terror outfit appears to be behind the Pampore strike,” news agency PTI earlier quoted CRPF director general Prakash Mishra as saying.
Though over 100 people were present at the Pampore training centre when the militants barged in, they were allowed to leave unharmed.
Two officers of the elite Para Regiment - Captain Pawan Kumar of 10 Para and Captain Tushar Mahajan of 9 Para regiment - who were leading from the front were killed in the operation after they entered the multi-storeyed building which guerrillas were using as a fortified bunker.
Captain Kumar belonged to Haryana’s Jind district in Haryana while Captain Mahajan belonged to Udhampur town in the Jammu region.
Another commando identified as Lance Naik Om Prakash was injured in the operation and succumbed in hospital on Sunday.
A civilian, Abdul Gani Mir of Gundipora village in Pulwama district, who worked as a gardener at the institute was also killed in the gunfight.
As many as 15 other security personnel including an assistant commandant of the CRPF have been injured in the gunfight and are being treated in hospital.
At least 15 protesters were injured in Pampore town on Monday in clashes with security forces.
The protesters had defied curfew-like restrictions and were trying to carry out a march towards the site of the gunfight.
(With inputs from agencies)