Jammu: At least two persons, including a junior army officer, were killed and six, including women and children, injured after a group of heavily-armed militants stormed a military camp in Jammu early on Saturday and entered the family quarters, spraying automatic gunfire at the sleeping inhabitants, officials said.
The attackers believed to be Pakistanis stormed into the Sunjuwan Military Station close to Jammu city at 4.45 a.m. and entered the Junior Commissioned Officers family quarters, firing volleys of bullets and hurling grenades.
“One (Junior Commissioned Officer) JCO has been martyred while six persons, including three women and children, have suffered injuries,” the Army said in a statement, adding the soldier was killed in the operation to evacuate families.
However, Jammu and Kashmir Parliamentary Affairs Minister Abdul Rehman Veeri said two JCOs were killed while a colonel rank officer was among those injured. The injured also include the daughter of a junior army officer who had come to visit her father during school holidays.
The army statement said the militants after a brief exchange of fire with the soldiers at the periphery of the camp entered the family accommodation complex.
“The Quick Response Teams cordoned off the area and isolated the terrorists, who are holed up in a few houses. Due to presence of women and children in the housing colony, the operations are being progressed cautiously to minimize casualties.”
Police and army sources said the attack was contained even as the operation was still on.
Most of the families have been evacuated. Before the final assault on the terrorists we are making sure that no civilians are harmed in this operation, they said.
The sources said room-to-room intervention was going on to pin down the militants, believed to be three to four in number.
There had been intelligence inputs that Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) militants were planning to carry out an attack around the 5th death anniversary of Parliament attack convict, Afzal Guru, who was hanged on February 9, 2013 in Tihar Jail, the sources said.
Para commandos of the army have been airlifted from the army’s northern command headquarters in Udhampur town to flush out the holed up militants.
Air Force has been providing aerial surveillance to the security forces during the operation against the militants who have been surrounded inside one of the buildings.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to state police chief S.P. Vaid. “Since the operation is still underway, it won’t be right for me to make any comments. Our army and security officials are doing their duty. They will never let us down,” Rajnath Singh said.
All educational institutions within half a kilometre radius of the camp have been shut down for the day.
The attack on family quarters of military personnel was a stark reminder of a similar attack in 2002 when a group of militants in army fatigues killed 30 people and wounded nearly 50 in Kaluchak near Jammu.
In 2006, a suicide attack carried out at the Sunjuwan camp saw the death of 12 soldiers before two fidayeen militants were killed.
Jammu and Kashmir Assembly Speaker Kavinder Gupta sparked controversy by linking Rohingya refugees living in Jammu to the attack. However, he withdrew the remarks after an uproar during which NC legislator Muhammad Akbar Lone shouted pro-Pakistan slogans to counter the anti-Pakistan slogans raised by the ruling BJP MLAs. Lone’s slogans were also expunged even as the opposition National Conference distanced itself from it.
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti expressed her anguish over the terror attack saying she was “deeply disturbed…. My heart goes out to the injured and their families”.
NC working President and former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah also condemned the attack.