Monday, October 10, 2016

Pampore attack: Militants holed up inside govt building; combing operations intensify

After India carried out surgical strikes across the LoC in PoK two weeks ago, Intelligence agencies in Kashmir had warned of a major terror strike either on an Army installations in Srinagar or convoys moving towards Jammu on the National Highway 1A.

The security along the National Highway was immediately tightened, vehicles coming in or going out from Srinagar were thoroughly checked, before being allowed to move towards their destinations. And that attack did happen on Monday morning, but surprisingly at the same spot where militants carried out an attack in February leaving a trial of destruction inside the Entrepreneurship Development Institute in Pampore.

The suspected militants who are reportedly holed up inside Entrepreneurship Development Institute (EDI), a government building in Sempora area of Pampore in south Kashmir, have been trying to infiltrate into Srinagar city from last many days, intelligence officials said. On Monday morning, at around 6 am, one the employee of the EDI, a skill-training institute, saw smoke emanating from a building in campus. Although, the fire has stopped but combing operation have been intensified on the entire stretch along the National Highway 1 A and in adjoining areas.

Militants had earlier taken positions inside a whitewashed building, among the three such buildings inside the campus. And after gunshots were heard inside the complex security forces rushed towards the area to flush out the militants. The campus is located on the banks of river Jhelum, which flows through the capital of the Jammu and Kashmir, Srinagar, before entering Pakistan.

“We knew two people have been trying to enter Srinagar from Pulwama area and were recently spotted near Sanant Nagar locality but returned after they found Kashmir police checking vehicles near the national Highway,” an intelligence officer told Firstpost. “Two to three militants are believed to be trapped inside either in the last building facing Jhelum or in the back yard of the EDI,” the intelligence official added.

Security forces have surrounded the entire area surrounding the building to prevent militants from escaping from the area. What is surprising is on normal days security bunker style vehicles are parked near the EDI main gate to protect the convoy passing through the Pampore area. It is not clear weather the militants entered the building from the main gate or the backside but intelligence officials said that the militants, to reach the institute, could have used boats across the river Jhelum to reach the institute, which would have been largely gone unnoticed.

“Once they were inside they set the hostel building on fire to lure forces a major gun battle followed,” officials said. This is the second attack in nine months which has happened at the same location. 

Earlier this year in February an encounter that last more than forty eight hours left three militants dead holed up in the front building of the EDI. The operation was launched after militants attacked a CRPF convoy on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway and took refuge in the multi-storey EDI complex.

The EDI building, which was destroyed in the previous attack is housed on approximately 10,000 square feet plinth area, and besides basement, has four storeys, including the ground floor, and a rooftop restaurant. Two army captains, one army para commando, two Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) soldiers and a civilian were killed in the encounter in that encounter.

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