7 civilians killed in blast, 3 terrorists, 2 Pak intruders neutralised, 3 jawans martyred
The State of Jammu & Kashmir witnessed a ‘bloody’ Sunday with 15 deaths reported from different parts of the State in incidents of firing, explosion, and attack by the Border Action Team (BAT) of Pakistan Army along the Line of Control (LoC) in Sunderbani sector of Rajouri.
Seven civilians lost their lives in accidental blast in Laroo area of South Kashmir’s Kulgam district soon after the security forces neutralised three local terrorists in a fierce gunfight early on Sunday morning.
Meanwhile, three Indian soldiers attained martyrdom after the BAT, comprising heavily armed terrorists and elite commandos, ambushed patrol party of the Indian Army in the forward area of Sunderbani sector on Sunday afternoon. Two Pakistani intruders were later neutralised by the Indian soldiers in the fierce gunfight.
The surprise attack was ‘purposefully’ carried out by the Pakistan BAT team close to the LoC with an aim to provoke strong Indian retaliation. The latest incident is set to further escalate the tension in the area.
In Jammu, Ministry of Defence Spokesperson Lt-Col Devendra Anand said, “At about 1.45 pm on Sunday, the Indian Army in Sunderbani Sector on the LoC had a fierce encounter with heavily armed Pakistani intruders. The patrol party killed two intruders and recovered warlike stores including two AK-47 rifles”.
“Immediate reaction from other posts effectively cordoned the area and the search and destroy operation is in progress,” he added.
Lt-Col Devendra Anand said, “In the ongoing operation three Indian soldiers attained martyrdom while fighting the intruders and one soldier suffered grievous injuries and has been air evacuated to Army Command hospital, Udhampur. His condition is reported to be stable.”
Ground reports suggested massive cordon and search operations were launched in the forward area to track down presence of another group of intruders in the vicinity.
The three soldiers martyred along the LoC in Sunderbani hailed from Jammu region have been identified as Havildar Kaushal Kumar, resident of Nowshera; Lance Naik Ranjeet Singh, resident of Doda and Rifleman Rajat Kumar Basan, resident of Pallanwala
Another injured soldier has been identified as Rifleman Rakesh Kumar resident of Samba. Since January 1, 2018 this year more than 1,050 incidents of ceasefire violations have been reported along the 740 km long LoC between India and Pakistan. As many as 145 infiltration attempts have been made this year. Of them, 70 have been successful.
Tensions had escalated between the two neighbouring countries ahead of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) session in September 2018 following abduction of BSF jawan in Ramgarh sector of Samba along the International border across Jammu frontier.
The dead body of the Indian soldier was later recovered in badly mutilated state with slit throat and marks of bullet injuries and torture close to the barbed wire fence along the International border in the forward area. In Srinagar, at least seven civilians were killed in a blast triggered soon after joint team of security forces eliminated three local terrorists in Laroo area of South Kashmir’s Kulgam district early Sunday morning. Due to impact of the blast, these civilians received grievous injuries and were rushed to the nearby hospital where they succumbed to their fatal injuries.
Chaos prevailed in the area soon after the security forces called off the operation. According to local reports, “Large number of locals in the area converged inside the house to clear the debris and retrieve valuables from inside the house when powerful blast took place injuring large number of civilians.” Police spokesman in Srinagar said, “Immediately after the gunfight ended and the forces withdrew from the spot, civilians rushed to the encounter site where an explosive substance went off resulting in death of six civilians.” Another civilian succumbed to his fatal injuries late in the evening, police spokesman said.
“Despite requests to not visit the spot till thorough search is done for explosives, several civilians visited the encounter site immediately after the operation. While they were there, some explosive substance went off, resulting in on spot death of a civilian and injuries to several others,” the police official said.
Adviser to the Governor, K Vijay Kumar, and DGP Dilbag Singh have expressed regret over the loss of civilian lives at the encounter site and conveyed their profound condolences to the bereaved families.
He said such sites should be avoided by civilians till they are properly sanitised.
Reacting to the news of loss of civilian lives, former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah termed it as ‘terrible news’.
“Terrible news coming out from Kulgam. May the deceased find place in Jannat. Alienating the people in the fight against militancy is a sure fire recipe for losing the fight. How long can we go on ignoring the ground realities & living in denial about how bad things are in Kashmir?” Omar wrote on Twitter.
The slain civilians were identified as Ubaid Laway, son of Mohammad Maqbool Laway; Uzair Ahmad, Mansoor Ahmad, Talib Maqbool of Laroo, Tajamul Ahmad of Denew Bogund and Irshad Ahmad of Shurat.
All three terrorists were locals and affiliated with Jaish-e-Muhammad. They have been identified as Shahid ul Islam Tantray of Wangam Shopian, Yazil Makroo of Arwani Bijbehara and Zubair Lone of Ahwatoo Kulgam.
Meanwhile, Joint Resistance Leadership has called for shutdown on Monday against the killings.