Heavily armed Jaish-e- Mohammad (JeM) terrorists today struck at an Army camp here, killing two personnel and injuring nine others including a Major, nearly 15 months after the Jammu region was hit by a similar attack. Two terrorists, both in combat gear, were gunned down after the Army evacuated people from 150 family quarters within the sprawling camp of the 36 Brigade of Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry, an officer said. The Army officer said Subedar Madanlal Chowdhary and Havildar Habibullah Quereshi, both hailing from Jammu and Kashmir, were killed and nine others -- four Army personnel and five women and children -- were injured in the attack. The condition of two of the injured Army personnel was stated to be "critical", he said. Briefing media persons at the main entrance of the camp, Jammu-based Army PRO Lt Col Devender Anand said the operation would continue till "all the terrorists are apprehended or killed". "The Army has killed two heavily armed terrorists who were in combat gear. They were carrying AK-56 assault rifles, a large amount of ammunition and hand grenades," he said. "A search of their belongings has confirmed that the terrorists were from the JeM. The operation is in progress and extreme caution and restraint are being exercised to safeguard unarmed soldiers, women and children in the camp," the officer said. The last terror attack in the Jammu region had taken place on November 29, 2016, when terrorists stormed the Army's Nagrota camp on the outskirts of Jammu city, killing seven Army personnel including two officers. Three terrorists were also gunned down. In today's attack, the terrorists struck before dawn and managed to sneak into the camp from the rear side of the base after a brief exchange of fire with the sentry on its periphery. "The terrorists entered the family accommodation complex after which quick response teams cordoned off the area and isolated the terrorists, who are holed up in a few houses (inside the camp)," the officer said. Army officials said a Major, who was injured, was airlifted to an Udhampur hospital where his condition was stated to be critical. Army helicopters and drones have been pressed to service recce the area, officials said. They said the Army was conducting the operation and the Jammu and Kashmir Police was not involved.
Even senior police officials were not allowed to enter the camp, the officials said. While there was no action around the main entrance and vehicles were moving along the Jammu-Lakhanpur bypass in front of the camp, Army personnel in bullet-proof vehicles engaged in the operation to rescue people from the family quarters in the rear side of the base. Contingents of para-military CRPF and police personnel have been posted outside the boundary wall and were keeping curious onlookers at bay to avoid civilian casualties. Generators and searchlights were brought to the camp, apparently for a night assault. Though the exact number of terrorists was not known, officials said preliminary estimates had suggested that the group comprised three to four of them. Inspector General of Police (Jammu) S D Singh Jamwal told reporters here that "around 4:55 am suspicious movement was noticed by the sentry and his bunker was fired upon. The fire was retaliated. The number of militants is not known." Soon after the attack, reinforcements of the Army's special forces and special operations group (SOG) rushed to the spot and cordoned off the area amid a fierce gunfight, security official said. Schools in a five-kilometre radius around the camp have been closed by the authorities as a precautionary measure. A high alert has been sounded in Jammu and security beefed up in and around the city. Intelligence inputs had warned of an attack on an Army or security establishment by Jaish-e-Mohammed in view of the death anniversary of Afzal Guru who was hanged on February 9, 2013. Those injured included a Major, Havaldar Abdul Hamid, Lance Naik Bahadur Singh and the daughter of slain Subedar Chowdhary, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Abdul Rehman Veeri had earlier told the Assembly which witnessed protests by BJP members who raised anti-Pakistan slogans.
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