4 Militants Killed In Pre-Dawn Highway Shootout

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Forces personnel inspect the site of encounter at Nagrota Ban toll plaza in Jammu on Thursday

Jammu: Four militants were killed and two policemen injured in a gun-battle on the Jammu-Srinagar highway after a truck carrying them was intercepted on the outskirts of Jammu city on Thursday, top police officials said.

The militants had come to execute a “big plan” which has now been foiled, Inspector General of Police (IGP), Jammu, Mukesh Singh, said.

In Srinagar, IGP, Kashmir, Vijay Kumar said the four militants were on their way to the Kashmir Valley to disturb the District Development Council (DDC) polls scheduled later this month, as Pakistan has been trying to cause trouble in the political process.

Giving details of the encounter, IGP Mukesh Singh told a press conference in Jammu that ever since the announcement of DDC polls, police have been receiving inputs about a possible infiltration bid by militants in Jammu.

“We had kept our all teams deployed at check points. There were intelligence inputs that militants may sneak in with large quantities of arms and ammunition,” the IGP Jammu said.

A truck was stopped at Ban toll plaza in Nagrota area at 5 am for checking, but the driver left the vehicle and fled, the police official said.

Immediately, CRPF and police personnel moved to search the vehicle and came under fire from the militants hiding in the truck.

According to the IGP Jammu, the militants were asked to surrender but they ignored the announcement leading to a gunbattle.

Other security forces also joined in resulting in a fierce gunbattle in which militants lobbed grenades and fired arms, he said.

In the three-hour-long gunbattle, four militants were killed and two policemen injured, the police officer said.

The truck, loaded with rice sacks, caught fire during the encounter. The bodies of the militants, hiding in a cavity within the truck, were recovered.

The two injured policemen, Kuldeep Raj and Mohammad Ishaq Malik, were admitted to Government Medical College (GMC) hospital in Jammu. They were out of danger, officials said.

A huge cache of arms, ammunition and explosive material, including 11 AK rifles, three pistols, 24 magazines, 29 grenades and six UBGL grenades, was recovered, the IGP, Jammu, said.

Besides, medicines, explosive material, bundle of wires, electronic circuits and bags in huge quantities were recovered from them.

“This is for the first in the last few years that such a large quantity of weapons were recovered from slain militants,” Mukesh Singh said.

Asked about the motive of the militants, Singh said given the quantity of weapons recovered from the slain militants, it seems that the group had infiltrated recently and were “planning something very big”.

“But their plan stands foiled,” he said, adding the operation was carried out jointly by the police, CRPF and the Army.

The recovered weapons indicate that the militants belong to JeM. They had a big error plan, Singh said, adding efforts were on to track down the truck driver.

A senior police officer said, it seems the militants infiltrated from across the International Border (IB) in Jammu region before boarding a Kashmir-bound truck.

Speaking on the sidelines of a function in Srinagar, IGP Vijay Kumar said, “For the last few days, Pakistan has increased attempts to infiltrate militants into this side and to disturb the elections for which the process is on.”

“In this context, Jammu Police and security forces have done a good job by neutralising four Pakistanis (militants). Their (militants’) aim was to come to Kashmir to disturb the election process”.

On January 31, a group of militants had opened fire at a police team near Ban Toll Plaza, triggering a gunfight in which three militants were killed and a policeman got injured.

Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) is exploiting the International Boundary area in Punjab Jammu sector to push in maximum number of militants, officials said.

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