India: Suspected Militants Attack Army Base in Kashmir

Amin Masoodi
Srinagar, India
161003-IN-soldier-620.jpg An Indian Army soldier stands guard at the 46 Rashtriya Rifles camp in Baramulla on Monday following a militant attack that killed one soldier.

Four suspected militants who killed a border guard and injured another at an army camp in Indian-administered Kashmir on Sunday night are likely from Pakistan, a senior police official in the region told BenarNews.

The attack on the army base in Baramulla, about 60 km (37.2 miles) from Srinagar, was a “shoot and scoot assault,” Imtiyaz Hussain Mir, the district’s Senior Superintendent of Police, said, adding that all four attackers managed to escape.

“A GPS (Global Positioning System), wire cutters, a compass and ammunition recovered from the site of the attack indicate the militants came from across the border,” Mir said.

“Local militants generally do not use devices like the GPS or compass,” he added, referring to Kashmiri separatists who have been fighting against Indian rule since the late 1980s. Local separatists are familiar with the area and would not need a GPS, he said.

More than 70,000 people have been killed since the separatist insurgency broke out in the Himalayan region of Kashmir in the late 1980s. The region is claimed in its entirety by both India and Pakistan.

The attack in Baramulla came two weeks after suspected Pakistani militants struck an army base in the Uri sector of Jammu and Kashmir, killing 19 Indian soldiers. That strike, which was blamed on Pakistan-based terror outfit Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM), escalated tensions between the two nations.

Following the Uri attack, the Indian Army last week claimed to have conducted surgical strikes in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir to wipe out at least five “terror launch pads” operating across the Line of Control (LoC), a de facto border that divides the region between India and Pakistan.

Pakistan, however, denied that any such strike by Indian armed forces took place in the territory in its control. Islamabad had not made any statement regarding the Baramulla attack as of late Monday.

Befitting reply

Nitin Kumar, 37, a member of the Border Security Force (BSF), was killed and Pulwinder Kumar, 35, another border guard, was injured in the assault, which continued well into early Monday morning, Mir said.

“The attackers took advantage of the darkness and the fact that the area is surrounded by civilian residences to escape. Our security forces were forced to act with restraint in order to avoid civilian casualties. The area has been sanitized as of Monday afternoon,” he said.

A security analyst blamed a security lapse for the attack at the 46 Rashtriya Rifles camp in Baramulla, saying there were intelligence inputs that militants may strike security installations in the region to retaliate for India’s strike in Pakistani Kashmir.

“Why were the attackers not confronted before they reached the gate of the army installation and opening indiscriminate fire? Our troops should have been on high alert to counter and eliminate the militants,” Israr Khan, a former senior police official in Kashmir, told BenarNews.

However, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said Indian forces were well-prepared to respond to such attempts by Pakistan-backed militants.

“Our security forces are giving a befitting reply,” Singh told reporters during a visit to the Leh sector of Kashmir.

Singh said his two-day visit to Leh and Kargil was aimed at interacting with a cross-section of people and taking their suggestions on the resolution of the Kashmir issue.

This is Singh’s fourth visit to the region since the killing of a top separatist leader in July sparked a fresh wave of violent anti-India protests.

At least 80 people, including two security personnel, have been killed and more than 10,000 injured in clashes between protesters and security forces since Burhan Wani, a commander of separatist outfit Hizbul Mujahideen, was gunned down on July 8.


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