Soldiers are killed in early morning raid in Kashmir
Suspected rebels using guns and grenades sneaked into an army base in Indian-controlled Kashmir early yesterday and killed at least 17 soldiers, the army said.
Four rebels were killed as the soldiers returned gunfire during the surprise assault before dawn on the base, located near the highly militarised Line of Control dividing Kashmir between India and Pakistan.
Loud explosions were heard and several barracks caught fire in the initial hours of the attack. Afterward, military helicopters hovered over the base as the army conducted what it described as “mopping up” operations.
Officials said at least 30 soldiers were wounded in the attack, including about a dozen who were in critical condition.
The casualties were high because a large number of soldiers were turning over the base to new units and were stationed in tents and temporary shelters that caught fire in the attack, the army said in a statement. The base, located in the town of Uri, west of the region’s main city of Srinagar, houses the Indian army’s regional brigade headquarters along the de facto border separating Indian and Pakistanicontrolled Kashmir.
Soldiers were conducting searches in the area, but army officials said it appeared that they had killed all four rebels involved in the attack.
Army officials said the rebels had infiltrated into the Indian side of Kashmir from the Pakistani-controlled part.
Lt Gen Ranbir Singh, the army’s director general of military operations, said that all four gunmen killed were “foreign terrorists,” and that initial investigations suggested that they belonged to Jaish-e-Mohammed, a militant group that has been active in Kashmir for more than 15 years.
India blames the outlawed group, which is based in Pakistan, for a series of attacks in the Himalayan region and Indian cities.
Singh said the gunmen were carrying “some items that had Pakistani markings.” He said he had spoken to his Pakistani counterpart and conveyed India’s “serious concerns”. The rebels entered the sprawling camp after crossing a stream and breaching the fencing on Saturday night.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemned the attack and tweeted, “I assure the nation that those behind this despicable attack will not go unpunished.”
ALERT: Indian troops patrol the base after the deadly assault on Sunday morning