In a dastardly attack, the biggest in Jammu region since 2002, militants struck in the border town of Samba, killing five people, including a woman hostage and a photojournalist.
Two militants holed up in a house were killed on Sunday evening after a fierce, 13-hour encounter. The militants had taken six people, including women and children, hostage.
The attack, the first major terror strike since the one on Raghunath temple in November 2002, came close on the heels of an infiltration bid three days ago, which the Border Security Force claimed to have foiled. Police believed that some militants did manage to sneak in and the location of Sunday’s encounter site, close to the Jammu-Pathankot highway, indicates that infiltrators were indeed able to negotiate the fence and other monitoring devices.
Inspector General of Police K. Rajendra confirmed to Hindustan Times that both the militants had been killed and that the operation was over.
Mubassir Latif, a police superintendent, an army major and the cameraman of a TV channel were among the eight people injured.
Before killing the second militant — one was killed around 3.30 p.m. — the police were able to rescue five people, including two children and a woman.
Violence began early on Sunday when one Hoshiar Singh saw militants coming out of a mango grove, overlooking a dry pond.
Suspicious about their motives he confronted them, at which the militants opened fire and killed Singh and his wife Shashi Bala.
After killing the duo, the militants moved into a nearby house, where they held women and children hostage and began firing, provoking an encounter.
From within the house, they opened fire and lobbed grenades at the policemen outside. This was followed by a fierce 13-hour encounter. The way the militants were firing through windows and targeting soldiers and policemen, indicated they were trained in urban guerrilla warfare. In a gruesome sight, the militants threw the body of a woman hostage out.
In the gun battle, a soldier and a photojournalist were killed. While the soldier died fighting militants, press photographer Ashok Sodhi of the Daily Excelsior was shot dead when he attempted to take a picture of the house where from militants were firing.
Security forces faced a dilemma blowing up the house and finishing off the militants, as there were two children inside.