Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s poll rally, Kashmir Valley was today rocked by four terror attacks by militants from across the border who stormed an Army camp in Uri leaving 11 security personnel including a Lt Colonel dead and killed two civilians in Tral.
The attacks and gun battles with security forces which in all left 21 people dead also included a top commander of Pakistan-based terror outfit LeT and seven militants. Srinagar and Shopian were the other two places where the militants struck.
They came just three days after a 72 per cent voter turnout was registered in the second phase of incident-free Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday in a rerun of record polling in the first phase.
Modi, who will be holding a rally in Srinagar city on Monday, condemned the terror attacks as “desperate attempts” to derail the atmosphere of hope created by the increased voter turnout and saluted the soldiers who laid down their lives for the nation.
Uri, Srinagar, Tral and Shopian goes to polls in the third and fourth phase over the next 10 days.
Located 100 km from here, Uri town in North Kashmir woke up to a raging gun fight between militants and army personnel this morning as a group of six terrorists had targeted an artillery camp, located 20 km from the Line of Control (LoC) in a pre-dawn strike, official sources said.
The militants entered into the first barrack of the high-security artillery unit at 3.10 am and fired several rounds which set off a fire. Four army personnel, who were injured in the gun fight, could not come out of the barrack and were charred to death, the sources said.
A message was relayed to the local police and nearby Punjab regiment which rushed its Quick Reaction Team to counter the intruding militants. However, the team was caught in a cross fire in which Lt Col Sankalp Kumar of Punjab Regiment and three other ranks were killed.
An Assistant Sub Inspector of J and K police and two constables were also gunned down by the militants, who might have infiltrated into the region from Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir (POK) around Monday or Tuesday.
Armed with AK rifles, grenades and two shot guns, the dense fog in the region also came to the help of six militants who went on a killing spree before being shot dead by the army at the Mohra in Uri tehsil of north Kashmir’s Baramulla district which goes to polls on December 9.
In Tral, militants hurled a grenade at a police party in which two civilians were killed.
Terming the attacks as most unfortunate, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the militants crossed from across the border and fired at the jawans and securitymen at a camp.
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said the attacks were a “desperate attempt” to disrupt peace and normalcy.
Six AK rifles with 55 magazines, two shotguns, 2 Night Vision Binoculars, 4 Radio Sets, 32 unused Grenades, one Medical Kit, maps of the region and a large quantity of miscellaneous warlike stores were recovered from the six dead terrorists in Uri, official sources said.
In Tral area of South Kashmir, two civilians were killed and six others injured when militants hurled a grenade at a crowded bus stand.
Unidentified militants lobbed the grenade on a security patrol at Tral bus stand, 35 km from Srinagar, killing Ghulam Hasan Mir (60) and Mohammad Shafi Gujjar besides injuring five others, the police said.
In Soura in the outskirts of Srinagar city, top Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) commander Qari Israr along with his accomplice was killed by security personnel when they were trying to enter the city, police said.
They tried to speed away from a check point at Ahmadnagar in Soura but were chased and in the ensuing gun battle, Israr was gunned down. One AK-47 rifle was recovered from him.
Inspector General of Police, Kashmir, Abdul Ghani Mir said they had inputs about a militant module having entered Srinagar to carry out a major strike in the coming days.
Police have intensified random search of vehicles following intelligence inputs that militants might carry out a suicide attack in the city ahead of the elections and the scheduled rally of the Prime Minister on Monday.
In yet another attack, militants hurled a grenade at a police ambush party in Shopian in south Kashmir but there were no reports of any casualty.
Shopian area has been vulnerable as militants coming from Doda region through Peer Panjal Range have been using this area as a transit spot.