Security forces gunned down three suspected Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists at a government training centre in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pampore town on Monday, ending a 50-hour standoff in which five soldiers and a civilian have been killed.
A “warlike stockpile” of weapons and ammunition were found at the besieged Entrepreneurship Development Institute, a 15-acre campus housing three multi-storey buildings, where the terrorists were hiding.
Major Arvind Dutta said the terrorists looked like foreigners. “The Lashkar group is suspected in the attack and the men seemed to be part of a suicide squad.”
The army started a mop-up operation after the third terrorist died around 5pm. There were fears that some terrorists may have escaped taking advantage of support from residents, who gathered outside the site, chanted anti-India slogans and threw stones at soldiers.
People in Kashmir’s northern-most town of Uri protested against a police attempt to bury the three terrorists. “There have been instances of security forces killing militants who turned out to be civilians killed in staged shootings,” a resident said.
Hundreds of people clashed with police demanding the bodies of the three terrorists.
Security agencies bury slain terrorists far-off from the place where they are killed to prevent public funerals in their honour.
The Pampore standoff — possibly the longest in the history of militancy in Kashmir — began on Saturday when heavily-armed terrorists stormed the institute, killing two CRPF men and a civilian. Another 13 paramilitary troops were wounded. The next day, the nation lost two young Captains — Pawan Kumar of Haryana and Tushar Mahajan of J&K — of the army’s elite Para (Special Forces) and Lance Naik Om Prakash of Shimla under a volley of bullets in a fierce operation to flush out the rebels.
Over 100 people were at the training centre in saffron-rich Pampore, some 12km from Srinagar, when the terrorists barged in but they were allowed to leave unharmed.
(With agency inputs)
With inputs from agencies