HT This Day: June 30, 1999 -- 17 massacred in Poonch
Unidentified militants massacred 17 persons in two villages, separated by mountain ridges, in Poonch district with the police claiming the massacre was the outcome of a rivalry between two factions of a pro-Pakistan militant group.
Four BSF men, including two officers, and four militants were killed in a fierce encounter underway in the hills of Halmotpora in Kupwara, a frontier district in North-West of Kashmir, since last night. Rashtriya Rifles columns have been rushed to control the militants’ offensive. Their number has been estimated to be 40 or so.
According to the police, masked militants struck almost simultaneously in Mora Bachai village in Surankote area and Shruti in Mendhar of Poonch district around midnight. They opened fire indiscriminately from automatic rifles in these villages and 17 persons were killed. The militants then disappeared in darkness, unchallenged and undetected.
The first strike took place in Mora Bachai where seven children, three women and five men were shot dead in cold blood. All of them were Muslims, the police said. two others were killed in Shruti village in Mendhar, which is closer to the Line of Control dividing Jammu and Kashmir between India and Pakistan.
Surankote Station House Officer (SHO) has reached the massacre site. However, there was no immediate communication from him about the killings. The exact motive behind the massacre is yet to be known. But the police suspect that it is a case of group rivalry.
“It is a case of rivalry between two factions of Hizb-ulMujahideen”, local police officials said.
Meanwhile Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah today ordered a magisterial inquiry into the Poonch carnage which has claimed seventeen lives. The Chief Minister said he had directed a minister to rush to the spot for an on the spot assessment.