Gunbattle enters 2nd day
Srinagar—A gunbattle between the Indian security forces and suspected separatists, holed up in a multi-storey government building complex in occupied Kashmir, entered into second day on Tuesday even as the government launched a fresh offensive against the militants.
On Monday, a group of suspected rebels had entered inside the compound of Entrepreneurship Development Institute (EDI) building in Pampore town on the outskirts of Srinagar and engaged security forces in a daylong gunbattle.
“Security forces have launched a fresh offensive this (Tuesday) morning to flush out the militants,” The Times of India quoted an Indian army official as saying. He said that the area around the building premises has been cordoned off with an intermittent exchange of fire with the militants.
“Terrorists are firing and moving across the building, ruling out the option of burning it down,” said another official, suggesting the encounter may last another day or two as terrorists have not yet been confined in a part of the building.
According to Indian media, the militants had set on fire a few mattresses inside a hostel room to attract the attention of police and security forces which subsequently cordoned off the building.
The incident came nearly a week after Indian soldiers claimed to have shot dead three suspected militants who tried to raid an army base in northern Kashmir on Thursday. The three men were found in an orchard near the army base in Kupwara district near the Line of Control, the de facto border that divides the Himalayan region between India and Pakistan.
Tensions have escalated sharply since last couple of weeks after India claimed that its special forces had carried out a ‘surgical strike’ against militants camped on the Pakistan side of Kashmir and inflicted significant casualties. Pakistan denied such claim.
The latest round of tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbours over Kashmir began after militants killed 19 soldiers in an army camp, the deadliest toll in nearly two decades.
New Delhi blamed the attackers had come from Pakistan but Islamabad demanded credible proof. Pakistan denies sending fighters to Kashmir but says it gives moral and diplomatic support to the Kashmiri people in their 27-year struggle for self-determination.—KMS