SRINAGAR: It was a day of terror in Kashmir as 20 people, including eight army men, were killed and at least 11 injured Friday in a string of brazen militant strikes, days ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's rally here for the staggered assembly election.
Heavily armed militants attacked an army camp and a police checkpost, besides hurling a grenade at a posse of security personnel at three places. A smoke grenade also went off at a fourth place.
Modi is to address an election rally in Srinagar Monday. The state is in the midst of the five-phase assembly elections, with the next phase scheduled for Dec 9. The polls began Nov 25 and end Dec 20, with the vote count to be held Dec 23.
The initial two rounds of balloting in the violence-ridden state have seen heavy voter turnout, which has been described as a victory for democracy and the people's answer to militants' bullets. The terrorists have struck four days ahead of the third round of voting.
Eight army men, including a senior officer, and three policemen were killed Friday battling a group of heavily armed militants who mounted an audacious attack on the army camp in Baramulla district. All the six rebels were killed.
Lt. Col. Sankalp Kumar and a junior commissioned officer were among the soldiers killed in the audacious pre-dawn terror attack that took place at the army's Field Ordnance Camp located at Mohra near the border town of Uri.
The group of gunmen sneaked close to the army camp and struck at 3 a.m., but they met with stiff resistance at the main gate of the army camp.
The sentries on duty heard the gunshots and challenged the rebels who were armed with automatic weapons and hand grenades.
An official said eight soldiers and three policemen were killed in the attack.
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said the terror attacks Friday "once again show the desperate levels militants will go to to disrupt peace and normalcy".
He described it as "a terrible day" and said in a tweet: "Four attacks and a number of deaths - security forces & innocent civilians killed in the valley today."
There are differing accounts of whether the militants managed to enter the army camp. An officer said that they did enter, but the attack was repulsed, while another said the gunfight was confined to the main gate of the camp.
The gun battle was now over, a senior police officer told IANS.
Quick Response Teams (QRTs) were "rushed to the site after the militants attacked the camp. The militants opened fire at one of the QRT vehicles on the main road, killing an officer and two soldiers", the police officer said.
Even as the gun battle was dying down in Uri, a report came in of a terror attack on a police checkpost in Srinagar.
Two militants were killed in the gunfight that followed after the attack on the police checkpost here Friday, police said.
The separatist guerrillas attacked the police checkpost in Soura area, about 10 km from Srinagar city centre Lal Chowk.
One militant was killed and the other who was hiding in a house in the area also died in the ensuing gunfight.
A senior police officer told IANS that the gun battle was now over.
The third terror attack took place in south Kashmir's Tral town, 45 km from here, where one person was killed and 11 others were injured when a grenade hurled by militants exploded.
"Militants lobbed a grenade towards a posse of security forces in Tral town today (Friday) afternoon. The grenade exploded on the road, injuring 12 civilians, of whom one died," a senior police officer told IANS here.
The official said three people with serious splinter injuries were shifted to Srinagar.
The report of the fourth terror attack was sketchy. It was not clear whether a grenade attack took place at a police station in Shopian, with the police maintaining that only a smoke grenade went off.