Gunfire Rattles Jammu Ahead Of PM Modi’s Visit

PTI Photo

Two Fidayeen, CISF Officer Killed; 9 Security Men Injured In Pre-Dawn Encounter

Jammu- An attempt by banned militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) to carry out a suicide attack ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit was foiled after two suspected Pakistani militants were killed here in an encounter on Friday in which a CISF officer also died, officials said.

Nine security personnel were also injured in the pre-dawn gunfight near an Army camp in Sunjwan area on the outskirts of Jammu.

Director General of Police (DGP) Dilbag Singh, who visited the encounter site, said the two militants were part of a suicide squad of Pakistan-based JeM and their infiltration could be a "big conspiracy" to sabotage the prime minister's visit to Jammu and Kashmir.

According to initial investigation, the two militants entered the outskirts of Jammu city on Thursday after infiltrating from the international border in R S Pura sector and were staying in a locality close to the Sunjwan Army camp.

"Last night, police and other forces were involved in an operation which culminated... As per reports, the two terrorists were part of JeM's suicide squad, launched from Pakistan and tasked with targeting a camp of the security forces or engaging... to inflict a lot of casualties," the DGP told reporters near the scene of the encounter.

The militants were wearing suicide vests and were also equipped with a huge quantity of arms and ammunition, indicating that they had come to inflict heavy casualties on security forces.

"The encounter took place two days ahead of the prime minister's visit. It is part of a big conspiracy to disturb the peaceful atmosphere of Jammu and it could be a big conspiracy to sabotage the visit," Singh said, adding "it is good that we got timely inputs and the operation was concluded successfully."

The operation began around 4.25 am on Friday when the two militants, who were apparently moving towards the Army camp, were spotted by the guards who were changing duties, the officials said.

Around the same time, a CISF bus carrying 15 personnel was proceeding towards the Jammu airport, which is being guarded by the paramilitary force. Apparently, in a knee-jerk reaction, the two militants lobbed a grenade towards the bus and sprayed it with bullets before escaping back into the nearby locality, prompting the security forces to lay a cordon around the area.

A senior Central Industrial Security Force officer said the militants fired at the bus and lobbed grenades, killing Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) S P Patel and injuring two other occupants. The force retaliated effectively.

Later in a tweet, the CISF said its personnel were attacked by militants while going for an ongoing cordon and search operation.

According to the police, the gunfight began when the militants opened fire on the search party.

The officials said nine security personnel, including two policemen, were injured in the gunfight. A CISF personnel and a police personnel sustained grievous injuries.

As the CISF troops retaliated, the militants fled and entered the house of Mahommad Anwar, they said.

The security forces zeroed in on the house and killed one of the militants while he was moving towards the bathroom, where his associate had taken shelter, they said.

Efforts to neutralise the second militant took longer. He was killed in heavy gunfire and grenade hits, they said, adding the entire gunfight lasted a little over five hours.

On the identity of the slain militants, DGP Singh said an investigation is on but prima facie, it looks that the two were Pakistani nationals and had freshly infiltrated into this side from Pakistan. They have no history of militant activities in Jammu and Kashmir, he said.

The DGP said three weapons along with a lot of grenades were recovered from the possession of the slain militants.

They fired rifle grenades and some more security personnel were also injured after the initial casualties, he said, ruling out the presence of a third militant.

Responding to a question about local support to the militants, Singh said, "We have certain leads and we are working on them."

Two AK-47 rifles, an Under Barrel Grenade Launcher and a satellite phone were recovered from the slain militants, the police said.

Mobile internet services were suspended and schools in the vicinity of the encounter site were closed for the day as a precautionary measure.

On February 10 in 2018, three JeM militants stormed the Sunjwan Army camp and in the subsequent gunfight, seven people, including six soldiers, were killed. All the three militants were also gunned down.

On National Panchayati Raj Day on April 24, the prime minister is scheduled to visit Samba's Pali village, 17 km from here, to address a gathering.

This will be Modi's first visit to Jammu and Kashmir other than borders since the abrogation of the special status of the erstwhile state and its bifurcation in August 2019.

He had celebrated Diwali with Army jawans on October 27, 2019 in Rajouri and on November 3, 2021 in Nowshera sector in Jammu division.

Militants Attacked CISF During Shift-Change

Officials in New Delhi said, the two militants killed in an encounter with security forces in Jammu on Friday attacked the personnel with "heavy fire" during the crucial early morning shift-change time of CISF men at a checkpost.
The "fidayeen" or suicide bombers sprayed a volley of bullets in a "burst-fire" mode from their assault weapons and lobbed grenades at the security personnel at the picket deployed near the Chaddha camp in the Sunjwan area of the district, where the Army also has a large installation.

"The CISF men present on the spot undertook an immediate action and retaliated the attack, due to which the militants could not reach the main cordon of the security forces that was present in the area.

"Had they succeeded and were not forced to take shelter in a nearby residential area, the casualty among the forces could have been much more," CISF Deputy Inspector General (DIG) for operations and chief spokesperson Anil Pandey told PTI.

The two militants were killed in the ensuing encounter with the security forces.

Another officer said a team of 15 Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel onboard a static private bus was just about to take charge from those who were finishing their night duty when the attack took place around 4:25 am.

The bus driver ran away after the militants launched heavy gunfire and lobbed grenades even as the security personnel quickly took position and retaliated, he said.

A cordon-and-search operation is being carried out in the area for the last two-three days and the CISF team was part of it on Friday.

"We had inputs that two-three 'fidayeen' attackers of the Jaish-e-Mohammed could be lurking around in the area," the second officer quoted above said.

CISF Assistant Sub-Inspector S P Patel (58) was also killed in the attack, while six other personnel of the paramilitary force and a few others were injured.

Patel hailed from Satna district of Madhya Pradesh.

The CISF has deployed 13 companies or about 1,200 personnel on internal security duties in Jammu and Kashmir and those who came under the attack belong to company number 757 based in Bhilai in Chhattisgarh, a third officer said.

The militant attack came two days ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Samba in the Jammu region of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir.

This will be Modi's first visit to Jammu and Kashmir, other than border areas, since the abrogation of the special status of the erstwhile state and its bifurcation in August 2019.

The prime minister had celebrated Diwali with Army jawans in Rajouri on October 27, 2019 and in the Nowshera sector of the Jammu division on November 3, 2021.

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