3 soldiers, 2 terrorists killed in Rajouri attack: Police
LG, others condemn attack, pay tributes to slain soldiers
Jammu: Three soldiers and two ‘fidayeens’ (suicide attackers) were killed in a pre-dawn shootout at an Army camp in Rajouri district Thursday, police said.
“Both the terrorists, who are believed to be from the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed(JeM), were heavily armed with deadly ‘steel core’ bullets and were shot down after an over four-hour gun-battle which started at 2 AM and ended just before 6.30 AM,” police said.
The attack came four days ahead of India’s 75th Independence Day next Monday.
Director General of Police Dilbag Singh said that the two suicide attackers, believed to be from the banned JeM, attempted to sneak into the camp but were neutralised. He said “three army-men were also martyred in the gunfight”.
Giving details, Defence spokesman at Jammu Lt Col Devender Anand said alert sentries of the Army post at Parghal in Rajouri district in the Jammu region, about 185 km from Jammu city, detected suspicious persons approaching their post taking advantage of the inclement weather and dense foliage.
“The sentries challenged the two terrorists who lobbed grenades while attempting to gain entry inside the post. However, alert troops cordoned the area and engaged them in a firefight,” he added.
Anand said in the ensuing gunfight, both the attackers were neutralised.
Six soldiers of the Army were injured in the operation and of them, three succumbed to injuries while repulsing the suicide attack, he added.
The slain Army personnel were identified as Subedar Rajendra Prasad (of Maligoven village in Rajasthan’s Jhunjhunu district), Rifleman Lakshmanan D (of T Pudupatti village in Madurai district of Tamil Nadu) and Rifleman Manoj Kumar (of Shahjahanpur village in Haryana’s Faridabad), Anand said.
“The Indian Army salutes the bravehearts for their supreme sacrifice in the line of duty, upholding the highest tradition of the force. The nation will always remain indebted to them for their supreme sacrifice and devotion to duty,” he added.
According to eyewitnesses, the first gunshot was heard around 2 am when the attackers attempted to breach the external fence of the army camp.
The attack marks the return of ‘fidayeen’ to the Union territory of J&K after more than three years. The last such strike took place on February 14, 2019 at Lethpora in Pulwama district of south Kashmir, in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed.
“There was an intelligence input about the presence of terrorists from the JeM in the region and police and other security agencies were carrying out operations in various parts of the district,” police said.
Security forces and the police had been put on alert following intelligence inputs on suspected movement of terrorists in the Rajouri belt, prompting them to launch a combing operation in Darhal and Nowshera belt on Wednesday.
“Terrorists came close to 7-feet high fencing wall of the 11 Raj Rifles camp and hurled a grenade on a sentry post,” Senior Superintendent of Police (Rajouri) Mohammad Aslam said. Due to the grenade blast, one sentry personnel died on the spot, he said.
He said the “police had inputs about the movement of terrorists and a cordon and search operation was going on since yesterday. There were also inputs regarding such movements in Thanamandi, Kandi Bhudal and border areas too.”
Asked whether the ‘fidayeen’ attack was similar to the Uri strike, Aslam said ‘fidayeens’ are meant to cause major casualties. In 2016, four JeM ‘fidayeens’ attacked a brigade headquarters of the Army near the Line of Control (LoC) in Uri killing 19 soldiers.
“They wanted to do it here too. But troops bravely fought and neutralised and did not allow them to reach the barracks. They were neutralised before reaching these places.”
Aslam said “the intruders appear to be foreign terrorists” but investigations will give further leads.
“After investigations, we can also say whether the attack was carried out by a recently infiltrated group of terrorists.”
“We cannot rule out the presence of other terrorists in Rajouri. We are exercising alertness. Cordon and search operations are going on in the areas,” he said.
JeM cadres had earlier unsuccessfully attempted to carry out a ‘fidayeen’ attack on April 22 in Jammu when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was scheduled to be in town. However, the two terrorists were killed in a chance encounter with the CISF near the Sunjawan Army camp. An officer of the paramilitary force was also killed.
An Army spokesperson tweeted that Army chief General Manoj Pande and all ranks “salute the supreme sacrifice” of three soldiers who laid down their lives in the line of duty in Rajouri and offer deepest condolences to the bereaved families.
Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha condemned the attack and vowed to deal with terrorists and their supporters in a befitting manner.
In a tweet, he said, “Strongly condemn despicable terrorist attack in Rajouri; tributes to brave soldiers who made supreme sacrifice. Heartfelt condolences to the families of the bravehearts martyred in the attack. We shall deal with evil designs of terrorists and their backers in a befitting manner.”
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi condoled the death of soldiers in the attack and said the country will always remember their sacrifice.
“The news of the terrorist attack on an army camp in Jammu and Kashmir’s Rajouri is very saddening. My humble tributes to the martyred soldiers, this country will always remember your sacrifice,” Gandhi said in a Facebook post in Hindi.
“I wish speedy recovery of the injured soldiers and peace for the martyred soldiers, and my deepest condolences to the bereaved families,” he said.
Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra also expressed sadness over the attack.
“Humble tributes to the martyred soldiers. The country will always owe you for this sacrifice. May God give peace to the souls of the martyred soldiers and speedy recovery to the injured soldiers. Deepest condolences to the bereaved families,” she said in a Facebook post in Hindi.
National Conference leader Omar Abdullah condoled the death of three soldiers in the attack.
“Very sorry to hear about the death in the line of duty of three soldiers following a militant attack in Rajouri. While condemning the attack I send my condolences to the families & my prayers for the swift recovery of those officers & jawans injured in the attack #Rajouri,” the former chief minister tweeted.
Senior BJP leader Davinder Singh Rana expressed his anguish and tweeted, “I salute the bravehearts the martyred soldiers who laid their lives for the Nation. Pakistan, a crumbling nation is desperate and is using regulars to create disharmony in J&K but will never succeed”.
On May 08, an infiltrator was killed as the Army foiled an infiltration bid along the LoC in the Laam area of Rajouri district. There were several blasts in Rajouri district in April and May.
Police had also claimed busting two modules of the LeT “instrumental in carrying out terror acts and ferrying drone-dropped weapons from Pakistan to the Kashmir valley”. They arrested five members of two terror modules. (With PTI inputs)