Pampore Battle Rages On For 2nd Day, 2 More Army Officers Killed

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SRINAGAR: With militants holding the ‘advantageous position’ in the 7-storey Entrepreneurs Development Institute (EDI) building at Sempora, Pampore for more than 28 hours, three Army personnel, including two Captains, of elite 9 PARA regiment lost their lives while trying to storm the floor where militants are holed up. Unconfirmed reports said one militant has died fighting so far. Three CRPF personnel and a civilian were killed on Saturday.

The encounter followed an ambush on a paramilitary CRPF vehicle on the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway at Sempora in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district on late Saturday afternoon. Militants ambushed a bus of CRPF at Sempora at around 4:20 PM, leaving 11 personnel injured on Saturday. The injured CRPF personnel were immediately rushed to nearby hospital from where four critically injured CRPF men were referred to Srinagar. However two CRPF men identified as Head Constable Bhula Singh of 144 Battalion and Constable RK Raina who was the driver of the vehicle attacked by militants succumbed.

A civilian, Abdul Gani Mir of Gundipora Pulwama, was injured in ‘cross firing’ and was hit in abdomen and hip. 48-year-old Mir, a gardener at EDI, succumbed to injuries at a hospital here late Saturday night.

Meanwhile, the gunfight between the militants who took up position inside the EDI building continued through the night. The army summoned elite PARA troopers late in the night and when they attempted to storm the building before dawn on Sunday, the militants opened heavy gunfire on them, leaving an army captain namely Pawan Kumar injured. Kumar, a resident of Jind in Haryana was shifted to 92 Base Hospital where he died.

Later in the day, three more elite commandos including another Captain sustained injuries and were shifted to 92 Base Hospital.

On their arrival, doctors declared Captain, Tushar Mahajan (26) of Aadarsh Colony Udhampur, as brought dead while another para commando Lance Naik Om Prakash (32), a resident of Shimla district in Hamachil Pradesh, succumbed to injuries later.

The Army today deployed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to locate the position of the militants, thought to number three, in the EDI building. Several attempts to storm the building before sunset failed.
The top floor of the EDI complex, which houses a food court, caught fire after army reportedly fired grenades towards it.

Meanwhile, a CRPF spokesman said that he cannot confirm the death of a militant in the gunfight.

“The death of a militant as report is not confirmed,” the spokesman said.   

Meanwhile anti-India protests and clashes broke out on Sunday in several neighbourhoods in Pampore, with groups of youth tying to march towards the encounter site.

Witnesses and officials said hundreds of youth, chanting “Go India, go back” and “We want freedom,” ignored the appeals from police to stay away from the encounter site and hurled stones at police and paramilitary soldiers.

Youth pelted stones from the bylaws of Pamper on reinforcements arriving at the encounter site during the day.

Meanwhile, a Scorpio vehicle carrying government forces also came under heavy stone pelting in Pampore town. However, the CRPF who were already deployed in the area opened pellet fire and tear gas shells, resulting in injuries to three youth.
The injured have been identified as Aadil Ahmad Mir of Meigi Pampore, Owais Mushtaq of Kadlibal and Muteeb Manzoor Malik of Drangbal. 

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