Jammu, Nov 29 (IANS) Seven soldiers, including two officers, were killed on Tuesday after suicide bombers armed with guns and grenades stormed a military base near Jammu, officials said. Three attackers were also gunned down while three more militants died in a shootout with security forces near the International Border with Pakistan.
At one stage, the gunmen at the army base in the garrison town of Nagrota, some 15 km from Jammu, also took 12 soldiers, two women and two children hostage. But the army said they were safely rescued.
The attacks at the military unit and a BSF camp – both on the outskirts of Jammu city – were the latest in a series of escalating militant violence in Jammu and Kashmir after the September 29 surgical strikes at terror launch pads by the Indian Army in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.
It was the highest casualty the Indian Army suffered in a single terror attack after the September 18 killing of 19 soldiers at a military base in the Uri border town in the Kashmir Valley.
Army spokesperson Lt. Col Manish Mehta said militants disguised in police uniform targeted the Nagrota camp, close to the headquarters of the Indian Army’s 16 Corps, a military formation that acts as a nerve centre against militancy and to defend the border with Pakistan.
Lt. Col Mehta told reporters that the militants entered the field regiment camp around 5.30 a.m. They fired indiscriminately and lobbed grenades at the Officers’ Mess.
“The terrorists entered two buildings occupied by officers, families and men. This led to a hostage like situation.
“The situation was very quickly contained and … all were successfully rescued, which included 12 soldiers, two ladies and two children.”
Mehta said two officers and five soldiers were killed and “bodies of three terrorists were also recovered”.
The mopping operation to sanitise the area in Nagrota was halted after it became dark and would resume on Wednesday morning. “In these operations, there is no time limit and these have to be done professionally. There is no civilian injury.”
The Jammu-Srinagar highway, which runs through Nagrota, was closed for traffic near the town, parts of which continued to be under cordon.
As soldiers battled the militants in Nagrota, another gunfight raged in Samba, some 40 km south of here.
A police officer said security forces engaged a group of infiltrators from Pakistan near the International Border. Three militants were killed.
An IED exploded when security personnel tried to remove the body of one of the dead militants, critically injuring at least six BSF troopers including Deputy Inspector General B.S. Kasana.
The wounded troopers, including Special Operation Group Inspector Sarabjit Singh, were reported to be in a serious condition.
The violence on Tuesday followed days of calm on the border and the Line of Control (LoC) between Indian and Pakistani forces.
The two sides have been exchanging heavy mortar and artillery fire for months after the Uri attack.
Following that, the Indian Army destroyed at least seven terror launch pads and killed an unknown number of terrorists and sympathisers across the LoC in Pakistani Kashmir.
Since then, militants have attacked security forces in at least a dozen places in Jammu and Kashmir.