Militants on Sunday killed two army Captains and a Para Commando of the force on second day of the fierce gunfight in Pampore area of South Kashmir’s Pulwama district. The number of militants holed up in the Entrepreneurship Development Institute building at Pampore—where the gunfight is taking place—is still not clearly known, even as efforts are on to “neutralize them”, they said.
An army official said Captain Pawan Kumar, a special para commando sustained bullet injuries in the wee hours of Sunday when militants fired at him. “The 22-year-old Kumar of 10 para later succumbed at the Army’s 92-base hospital in Srinagar,” he said.
After sometime, he said, para commando Lance Naik Om Prakash (32) breathed his last at the hospital. He was also injured in the gunfight.
The Army official said militants fired indiscriminately at the forces, changed their positions, took a break and then targeted forces in a “clever manner.”
Another Army Captain sustained bullet injuries in the encounter and later succumbed. He was identified as Captain Tushar Mahajan, 26, a resident of Udhampur. “Mahajan was brought from North Kashmir’s Kupwara district today to fight the militants at Pampore. He succumbed to his injures at the 92-base hospital,” he said.
Mahajan also belonged to Army’s 9 Para force.
Inspector General of Police, Kashmir range, Syed JavidMujtaba Gilani said Army sustained fatal causalities in the gunfight. “So far there have been six causalities that include a civilian,” he told Greater Kashmir.
He said the encounter has “emerged as a challenge for the forces.”
“We are fighting militants with full might. They were hiding in the main building and today we succeeded to corner them to its one side. We can’t say how long the operation will continue,” he said.
On number of militants hiding in the building, he said, they can be three, four or even five.
An army officer said the militants “seem to have done at least three reccees, before striking the CRPF convoy on February 20.”
“They are very heavily armed and highly trained. They are carrying some eatables along to sustain for a longer period. It was a pre-planned move by the militants to first attack a convoy and then take shelter in a tall EDI building,” he said.
He said quadcopters, the gadgets used for surveillance, have been pressed into service to spot the location of militants.
Pertinently, the operation is jointly being carried by Police, CRPF and the special commandos of Army’s 9 Para, officials said.
The encounter started on February 20 when militants attacked a CRPF convoy which was on way from Jammu to Srinagar, near EDI on Srinagar-Jammu highway at around 4 pm. 11 CRPF men were injured in the attack two of whom later succumbed to their injuries.
Meanwhile, CRPF spokesman in Srinagar, Bhavish Chaudhary claimed one militant has been killed in the encounter.
Talking to reporters at the encounter side, CRPF’s Special DG, S K Bhagat said militants were “having an advantage as they are positioned way above the ground level.”
“We are fighting them along with other forces and hope they would be eliminated soon. They are very heavily armed,” said Bhagat.
Meanwhile, the top floor of the EDI building was up in flames due to countless grenades fired by the forces to target militants, witnesses said. “It’s because of shelling that the top floor caught fire,” said a police official at the spot.
The fire-fighters later doused the flames.
Meanwhile, General officer Commanding (GoC) of Srinagar-based Army’s 15 Corps, Lt General Satish Dua paid rich tributes to the slain soldiers.
The GoC laid wreaths on the coffins of Captain Kumar and Lance Naik Om Prakash here, before their bodies were sent to their respective native places.