Kashmir encounter: JeM unleashes terror in Pulwama; eight security personnel, three militants die in gunfight

Plumes of smoke blew from two residential compounds inside the District Police Lines (DPL) on Saturday morning as the forces came under fire from multiple locations, after three heavily-armed militants, members of a Fidayeen squad, launched a deadly counter-attack in the midst of a major offensive against them in south Kashmir by raiding a sprawling police complex in the town in Pulwama district.

District Police Lines in Pulwama under attack. Image courtesy Hilal Shah

District Police Lines in Pulwama under attack. Image courtesy Hilal Shah

The fidayeen attack carried out by militant outfit Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) according to a local news agency, has left 11 people dead, including four CRPF soldiers, four Jammu and Kashmir Kashmir policemen and three militants.

The attack began pre-dawn at around 4:30 am when the militants managed to breach the defence of the police installation and secured positions inside multi-story buildings sparking an intense gunfight. The militants, police sources said, entered the premises from the rear side.

"The attack occurred at around 4.30 am when the fidayeen fired indiscriminately and barged into the DPL complex at Pulwama," Rajesh Yadav, CRPF spokesman at Srinagar said.

"When they entered the complex they fired indiscriminately, everyone knew something was wrong," a policeman who lives inside one of the buildings and jumped from the second story of the building told Firstpost, "They knocked on the doors but no one opened them up."

The militants after entering the residential complex fired indiscriminately sending shock waves inside the complex.

As the firing continued massive protests erupted in the area. Hundreds of youth took to streets and pelted stones at the forces. The army had to chase the protesters for hours before they disappeared. The main town of Pulwama wore a deserted look as all the entry and exit points of the town were sealed.

The attack comes two months after security forces foiled two similar suicide attacks in Sumbal area in North Kashmir’s Bandipora district.

As the police started evacuating dozens of police families, who were trapped inside the family quarters, a policeman was also hit and died after some time. Kashmir zone, Inspector General of Police, Muneer Khan said the families were safely evacuated and there was no hostage situation.

Two SPO’s were trapped in one of the buildings and were in constant touch with the police rescuers but the communication broke after some time and they were found dead later.

"There is one dead body lying in front of a block, the fire also came from two buildings that mean three terrorists were involved in the attack," Jammu and Kashmir DGP SP Vaid said.

The suicide attack comes at a time when security forces have launched an all out offensive against the militants killing more than 60 in since January this year only in south Kashmir.

Intelligence agencies believe the group, which carried out the attack, might have infiltrated recently from across the LoC. The JeM is infamous for carrying suicide attacks in Kashmir valley, most of them have been reported from the LoC in Kashmir. The outfit also carried a suicide attack on an Indian Army base that left 19 people dead in Uri last year.

Since last year the group has carried out many attacks on the LoC. Earlier this year in April three Indian Army personnel, including a captain, were killed and four others injured when Jaish militants attacked an army camp at Panjgaon in Kupwara district of north Kashmir.

JeM's signature was found in many attacks on army bases at Mohra and Tangdhar in north Kashmir, at Kathua and Samba in Jammu region, and at Pathankot air base in Punjab.

"The life of a Jaish militant, after entering the Valley, is less than 10 days. So they prefer to carry out attacks as soon they arrive. But since last year we have seen multiple attacks carried by the outfit on the LoC that is because of their inability to move beyond LoC and in the hinter land," a police official said.

JeM was founded by Maulana Masood Azhar, a fiery orator, in January 2000 after his release in Taliban-governed Kandahar, Afghanistan, from Jammu's Kot Balwal jail in exchange for passengers of hijacked IC-814 Indian Airlines plane. Azhar was arrested in Srinagar in 1994 on charges of terrorism.

The DGP said the militants entered the family quarters of the district police lines, they took shelter in family blocks and started firing from multiple locations.

“We will clear the area by evening. The operation is in the last leg,” Vaid said.

Updated Date: Aug 26, 2017 21:23 PM

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