Srinagar: A gunfight broke out between militants and government forces on Monday morning when around two to three militants took refuge in the Entrepreneurship Development Institute (EDI) located at Pampore.
According to an army spokesperson, an unconfirmed number of militants entered the Jammu and Kashmir Entrepreneurship Development Institute complex near saffron-rich town of Pampore, 12km from here, in the morning.
“There was an engagement in the morning. One of our jawans is injured as well,’’ the spokesman in Srinagar said. Unconfirmed reports put the number of rebels at two or three.
This is the second time that the institute, which trains and finances young men and women to be entrepreneurs, housed in three-building complex has been targeted this year.
A three-day fierce gunfight in late February left seven people, including three army commandos, dead.
Monday’s gun battle, too, showed signs of a long-drawn fight. Militants holed up on the sixth and seventh floors of the hostel building had used beds and almirahs as barricades against the army, sources said. A part of the building appeared damaged by fire.
Only a few cooks were in the building and they were evacuated in the morning. The ongoing unrest in the Valley, which is in its fourth month, continues to keep students away from the institute.
At 6.30am, three gunshots were heard and the militants could have taken a boat to enter the EDI complex situated on the banks of river Jhelum, eyewitnesses said.
The militants fired a few shots in the air and reportedly set fire to a part of the EDI building. Initially the commotion was dismissed as a fire incident by police but a gunfight erupted the moment security forces reached the complex to douse the fire.
The militants, said experts, had an advantage as the building had many small rooms, making it easy for them to shift positions and hard for the forces to track them.
There has been a spurt in militant activity in the state as well as along the line of control following the September 18 strike on an Uri army camp that left 19 soldiers dead.
Traffic was suspended on the highway that runs close to the institute and connects Jammu to Srinagar. The road is the only all-weather link for supplies.
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