February 2016 News

EDI Gunfight: Army 'probing How Militants Managed To Fight For 48 Hours'

24 February 2016
Greater Kashmir
Abid Bashir

Srinagar: The Army on Wednesday admitted that the recent 48-hour gunfight at the Entrepreneurship Development Institute in Pampore area on Srinagar outskirts 'offered some important lessons' for the force. It also said its intelligence wing is analyzing 'whether the heavy causalities suffered by us could have been prevented.' According to army sources, the EDI encounter that resulted in the killing of three soldiers-two army captains and a special para commando-was first of its kind in the past five years. The encounter ended with the death of three 'highly-trained' foreign militants. A civilian and two CRPF men also lost their lives in the gun-battle. 'Every encounter leaves behind certain pros and cons and as far as the EDI gunfight is concerned, three of our men laid down their lives. So we would definitely take lessons as to what went wrong or whether we could have avoided the fatal causalities,' an army officer told Greater Kashmir. He said since the Pampore gunfight has 'caught the world attention, we are analyzing the equipment recovered from the slain militants to get an idea as to what actually the hiding militants planned to do.' 'Our intelligence wing along with police is scrutinizing the war-like stores, the clothes, and other items recovered from the slain militants. The process is on,' he said. 'The sustenance element (that militants fought for 48 hours) is something which is being examined thoroughly. The EDI building being a concrete one has been an advantage for the militants to go from ground floor to top one, but how they sustained needs to be checked.' A source in army revealed that 'it will take some time to get actual idea about the plan the three (slain) militants had.' The army believes that militants being 'highly trained' may have used the mobiles of EDI staff. 'There is an apprehension that the militants may have used the mobile phones of EDI staff to get in touch with their mentors. Our intelligence is looking into where the calls were made and who responded to them,' they said. As per the EDI staff members, all the mobile phones they had left there are 'missing.' 'Roughly, more than 25 mobile phones belonging to EDI staff members are missing from the EDI building,' the staff members said. The identity of three slain militants continues to remain a mystery, even as the United Jehad Council (UJC) headed by HizbulMujahideen chief Syed Salahudin announced 'bravery award' for them. The Lashkar-e-Toiba militant outfit also paid tributes to the slain militants. As per the reports, the three militants have been laid to rest at Uri in North Kashmir's Baramulla district. According to the army sources, the operation cost the force dearly 'as it takes a rigorous training of six months to produce a special para commando.' 'Their training is not a routine one. They are very well trained,' an army official said, wishing not to be named. 'We will evaluate as to whether the causalities of three brave men could have been avoided. There is always a lesson to be learnt.'