In Samba Attack Rerun, Terrorists Target Army Camp In Jammu

In Samba Attack Rerun, Terrorists Target Army Camp In Jammu

28 March 2014
The Indian Express
Arun Sharma

Jammu: TWO days after Narendra Modi assailed Pakistan at an election rally in Hiranagar, three terrorists in army uniform commandeered a vehicle on the Jammu-Kathua national highway, killing two of its occupants before attempting to mount an attack on an Army camp at Janglote. They were foiled, but a jawan was killed in the prolonged exchange of fire that followed between the terrorists and security forces. All three terrorists were killed in the day-long encounter. The attack, which began before dawn on Friday, was similar to last September's attack on the Hiranagar police station and Army camp in Samba, in which 10 people, including an Army lieutenant-colonel, three soldiers and four policemen, were killed. Friday's attack, which began at Dayalachak on the Jammu-Kathua national highway, was carried out no more than 20 km from the location of the attack six months earlier. A man who claimed to be the spokesperson of the Al Shohada Brigade, believed to be a shadowy proxy of the Lashkar-e-Toiba, called some news organisations in Srinagar in the evening and claimed responsibility for the twin attacks, PTI reported. Three occupants of the commandeered SUV and an Army jawan were injured in the attack. Two of the injured were in serious condition on Friday night. According to police sources, the terrorists, wearing Army fatigues, flagged down the white Mahindra Bolero in driving rain at a bridge on the Tarnah nullah in Dayalachak on the deserted highway around 4.30 am. The vehicle was carrying five men from Punjab, all of whom were sewadars who had been constructing sheds and other facilities at the Radha Soami Satsang Beas in Vijaypur's Thandi Khuie area for the last two months. The spiritual leader of the sect, Baba Gurinder Singh, was expected to visit the centre over April 12-13, sources said. The devotees had left Vijaypur around 4 am to go to Beas for a darshan of the Baba, and to pick up material for the ongoing works at Thandi Khuie. According to one of the occupants of the vehicle, Kamaljeet Singh, 33, who received gunshot injuries, the terrorists asked the four passengers of the vehicle to get off. 'They told us to start running away from the vehicle. As we did, they opened fire, killing one of us and injuring the others,' Kamaljeet, who has been admitted to the Government Medical College Hospital in Jammu, said. With Kamaljeet in hospital were Sahib Singh, 50, and Gurpreet Singh, 35. The fourth passenger, Ajit Singh, was killed in the firing by the terrorists. After the terrorists had driven off towards Kathua, taking the vehicle and its driver, Tarsem Singh, along, one of the injured men called the secretary of the Radha Soami Satsang Beas in Jammu from his mobile phone. The secretary informed the police around 5 am. Even though all checkposts along the highway were alerted, the terrorists were spotted again only around 7.30 am, after they had travelled nearly 20 km to the Sahar Khud nullah. They left the highway there, and took the road along the nullah, but the SUV had got stuck in the soft soil. The terrorists then continued on foot towards the camp of the 111 Rocket Unit of the Army's Artillery Regiment. They reached the camp around 7.45 am. The SUV was found abandoned in the evening. The body of the driver, Tarsem Singh, was found nearby, his hands tied, mouth stuffed with cloth, and throat slit, PTI reported. I-G, Jammu zone, Rajesh Kumar, said the terrorists tried to enter the Army camp, but slipped into the forests after being engaged by an alert sentry on duty. Intermittent gunfire followed until around 1 am, by when two of the terrorists were believed to have been killed. The third terrorist began a fresh exchange of fire with security forces around 4.45 pm, but was shot dead after helicopters established his location in the dense foliage, sources said. Lance Naik V Anthony was killed in the gunfight with the terrorists, who also hurled grenades at Army positions, PTI reported. 'We have killed all the three militants in the daylong operation and recovered a huge quantity of arms and ammunition from them. The operation has been concluded,' IG Kumar said in the evening. Dayalachak and Jaglote are part of the Udhampur-Kathua Lok Sabha constituency, where union minister Ghulam Nabi Azad is a multi-cornered contest with the BJP's Jitender Singh. Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said 'such barbarian acts of terrorists amply expose their anti-human face'. Similar views were echoed by Azad and union minister Farooq Abdullah.