Nagrota attack: Seven army personnel, including two officers and five jawans, killed

Security forces killed four militants who attacked an army camp in Nagrota in Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday morning after a heavy exchange of fire for nearly eight hours

FP Staff November 29, 2016 16:22:31 IST
Nagrota attack: Seven army personnel, including two officers and five jawans, killed

Casualty in the Nagrota Army Headquarter attack has risen to seven as two officers and five jawans lost their lives.

In two major terror attacks, that rocked Jammu region on Tuesday, seven army personnel, including a Major, were killed and eight other securitymen, including a BSF DIG, were injured, before six heavily-armed terrorists were eliminated in the separate fierce encounters.

In one incident, a group of heavily-armed terrorists in police uniform stormed an army unit in Nagrota, very close to the Corps headquarters on the outskirts of Jammu city on Tuesday morning, triggering an intense gunbattle that lasted for hours. Seven army personnel, including two officers, were killed in this attack before three terrorists were killed in an armed stand-off

After the initial offensive, a hostage-like situation emerged with almost 12 soldiers, two ladies and two children held captive in a camp in the headquarters. The army successfully freed all the hostages, however, one more officer and two jawans lost their lives during the rescue operation.

Nagrota attack Seven army personnel including two officers and five jawans killed

Security personnel take positions during a gun battle with suspected militants at Army camp at Nagrota. PTI

However, bravery of the wives of two army officers who were staying in the family quarters helped in averting a major hostage crisis during the encounter. Soon after the heavily armed terrorists disguised in
police uniform entered an army unit located within three kms from the headquarters of the 16 Corps, they wanted to enter the family quarters where they could take the families of the soldiers and officers hostage.

However, due to the bravery of these two women, who were staying in the family quarters along with their newborns, the plans of the terrorists could not materialise. "The wives of the two army officers, who were on night
duty when the encounter broke out, displayed exemplary courage as they blocked the entry of their quarters with all the household items, making it difficult for the terrorists to break into the houses," an army officer privy to the  encounter told PTI.

On Tuesday, according to a police officer, an unknown number of militants barged into the field regiment camp in the Nagrota cantonment near the headquarters of the Indian Army's 16 Corps  in Jammu and Kashmir around 5.30 am. The militants were carrying automatic weapons and explosives and they started firing indiscriminately at the Officers' Mess inside the camp.

After around eight hours of heavy exchange of fire, security forces managed to kill three terrorists, however, the number of militants who entered the army premises could not be confirmed.

Manish Mehta, Defence PRO, told reporters in Jammu that  bodies of three militants were recovered from the premises and combing operations have still not concluded. The combing operations were concluded for the day on nightfall but will resume on Tuesday on daybreak.

Mehta also added that the terrorists entered the premises disguised in police uniforms and launched into indiscriminate firing with heavy war-like ammunition.

It is instructive to note here that Nagrota is not close to the international border, which raises questions that for how long the terrorists could have been inside the Indian territory.

The field regiment camp is located in the garrison town of Nagrota, around one kilometre from the headquarter of Indian Army's 16 Corps in the state — a military formation that acts as a nerve centre to fight militancy and defend the borders in Jammu region.

The militants were holed up in the army camp since morning as they exchanged fire with the security forces, killing three jawans and injuring three others in the gunfire, one of them being a young army major.

The retaliatory firing by the security forces killed one terrorist in the morning before the terrorists split up and started firing from three ends — the officers' mess, the store and the river front in the camp.

"A group of heavily armed militants, believed to be four-to-five in number, attacked the 166 field army regiment camp in Nagrota area of Jammu today [Tuesday] morning," a police officer told IANS.

"After entering the camp, the militants fired at the Officers Mess inside the camp. Two militants were killed and three soldiers injured. Other militants are still firing inside the camp," the officer added.

According to CNN-News18, the Indian forces killed two other militants in the afternoon after the paramilitary commandoes joined the operations. But it couldn't be confirmed.

However, Manish Mehta, Defence PRO refused to confirm the details till the operation was completely over.

In the wake of the terror attack on 166 Artillery unit of the army, the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway was closed for traffic in the area and was reopened on Tuesday evening. The district administration has closed all schools in
Nagorta tehsil as a precautionary measure. "We have ordered closure of all schools and education institutions in Nagrota tehsil in view of the terror attack," Deputy Commissioner, Jammu, Simrandeep Singh said.

The attack came around the same time when an infiltration bid was undergoing near the Chambliyal border outpost in Samba district of Jammu and Kashmir, some 40 km away from Nagrota. However, any connection between the two attacks has not been confirmed as yet.

A police officer said security forces engaged a group of infiltrators from Pakistan in a shootout near the International Border.

Three militants were killed in the heavy exchange of fire during which an ammunition dump caught flames and exploded, critically injuring at least six border policemen, including an officer of the Deputy Inspector General (DIG) rank, BS Kasana. The six, including Special Operation Group Inspector Sarabjit Singh, were taken to a hospital here, a police officer said, adding their condition was serious.

BSF said it detected suspicious movement of three persons late last night and a quick reaction team of the force swung into action, laying cordon in the area.

"On realising that they have been trapped, the militants started firing automatic weapons and lobbing grenades on the BSF troops. Unable to move further, the militants got holed up in a nearby tube well hut. Taking advantage of the cover, they kept firing intermittently till the day break. The area was kept under intense surveillance by the troops deployed awaiting day break," the BSF said in a statement.

At daybreak, the BSF personnel "made their move and with precise and stable fire, neutralised the three militants quickly," it said, adding one constable Shyamal Ahirwar sustained bullet injury in his wrist.

Throughout the morning hours, Pakistan kept firing intermittently to provide cover to the militants, it said. In the ensuing events, BSF's Jammu DIG B S Kasana, Inspector Sarabjit Singh of India Reserve Battalion and constable Vaibhav of BSF sustained injuries, it said.

All the injured were immediately evacuated to military hospital and were reported to be stable, the statement said. 18 magazines, 25 live grenades, three IED waist belts, five chain IEDs (used to blow up railway tracks) and a
wireless set were recovered from the slain terrorists. "Had BSF not successfully contained and eliminated the terrorists, they could have caused massive damage in the mainland. It was only because of BSF's multi-tier security
cover that this calamity was averted effectively," BSF spokesman said.

The area is being sanitised.

This is the seventh terror attack in the last seven days. The camp is situated close to the headquarters of the Indian Army's 16 Corps — a massive military formation that acts as a nerve centre to fight militancy and defend the borders in the Jammu region. According to reports, it's likely that the army headquarter was the terrorists' main target.

According to ANI, Defence minister Manohar Parrikar on Tuesday said that statistics have shown that the terrorists are targetting mostly military establishments and not civilian areas as they seek support from the locals.

The security forces have cordoned off the area and all schools Nagrota tehsil remained shut on Tuesday as a precautionary measure. "We have ordered the closure of all schools and education institutions in Nagrota tehsil in view of the terror attack", Deputy Commissioner, Jammu, Simrandeep Singh said.

In view of the attack, the Jammu-Srinagar highway, which runs through Nagrota, has been closed for traffic near the town after the security forces cordoned off the area. An alert has been sounded in Jammu city and security has been beefed up in nearby districts including Uddhampur and Katra which is home to the Vaishnodevi temple.

Meanwhile, the Congress has criticised the Narendra Modi government, asking it to clairfy its stand on Pakistan, and how the government plans to deal with cross-border terrorism.

The two terror incidents in Jammu came on a day Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa took over as Chief of Pakistan Army from Gen Raheel Shareef.

With inputs from agencies

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