Terror kills 15 in Kashmir, PM says talks to go on

Four soldiers, six policemen and two civilians were killed in Jammu and Kashmir Thursday in an audacious terror attack that also left three militants presumably from Pakistan dead.

Published: 26th September 2013 08:30 PM  |   Last Updated: 26th September 2013 08:31 PM   |  A+A-


Four soldiers, six policemen and two civilians were killed in Jammu and Kashmir Thursday in an audacious terror attack that also left three militants presumably from Pakistan dead.

Furious over the nine hours of mayhem, the BJP asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to call off his talks with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif in New York Sunday. But he vowed to go ahead with the meeting.

The heavily armed guerrillas first barged into a police station in Jammu region, killing eight people, and then drove off with a truck to attack an army base where they shot dead an officer and three soldiers.

It was one of the worst terror attacks in recent times in Jammu and Kashmir, where a separatist campaign for which India blames Pakistan shows no signs of ending. 

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said the terrorists sneaked into the state from Pakistan in the last 12 hours. He hoped the killings would not derail the India-Pakistan talks on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

The attack began in the morning when the attackers reached a relatively unguarded police station at Hira Nagar in Kathua district, not far from the Pakistan border, lobbing grenades and firing away automatic weapons. 

In no time, eight people lay dead: six policemen, a shopkeeper and the driver of a truck parked in the complex. Four others suffered splinter and bullet injuries. 

The guerrillas escaped in the truck, drove on the Pathankot-Jammu highway and entered an army unit's Officers' Mess in Samba, some 35 km from Jammu, killing Lt. Col. Bikramjeet Singh and three soldiers. 

Some soldiers were also wounded in the second attack that began around 8.30 a.m. and ended nine hours later when commandos flown in shot dead the terrorists.

An incensed Bharatiya Janata Party asked the government to cancel the Manmohan-Sharif talks.

"The PM is in a hurry to start a dialogue with Pakistan," BJP president Rajnath Singh said. "There should be no talks with Pakistan unless there is a conducive environment."

His colleague Sushma Swaraj tweeted: "No dialogue over dead bodies. Cancel your meeting with Nawaz Sharif."

The Indian prime minister, who was on his way to the US when he learnt of the attack, refused to oblige.

Manmohan Singh said that "such attacks will not deter us and will not succeed in derailing our efforts to find a resolution to all problems through a process of dialogue".

Conveying his condolences to the families of those killed, he said: "This is one more in a series of provocations and barbaric actions by the enemies of peace."

In an obvious reference to Pakistan, he said: "We are firmly resolved to combat and defeat the terrorist menace that continues to receive encouragement and reinforcement from across the border." 

In Srinagar, Omar Abdullah said "it would be great injustice" if the India-Pakistan dialogue process got stalled following the terror attack in Jammu region.

He blamed the attack on "forces inimical to peace between India and Pakistan". He said it would be difficult to speculate if Thursday's attack had the backing of the new government in Pakistan.

The Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi also pressed for the talks.

"Our hearts go out in sympathy to the families of all those who fell victim to terrorist violence in Jammu today," a statement from the mission said. 

"It is imperative that senseless act of violence do not deter us from pursuing a path to a better future for our peoples," it said.

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