SRI NAGAR: The three-day-long gunfight in a multi-storeyed government building in Pampore area on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway ended on Monday afternoon, with the killing of all three heavily armed fidayeen, said to be foreigners, and suspected to belong to the Lashkar-e-Toiba.
Two army captains, a commando, two paramilitary CRPF men and a civilian were also killed in the encounter.
“All the three militants, who had taken control of the multi-storeyed concrete building of the J&K Entrepreneurship Development Institute (EDI) at Sempora, Pampore area Srinagar’s outskirts on Saturday evening, were killed today,” General Officer Commanding of Victor Force, Major General Arvind Dutta, told reporters.
Security forces used rockets, mortar shells and grenade launchers to overcome the militants who were hiding on the top floor of the building. GoC Dutta said, “As per our inputs, they are foreign militants and we are ascertaining their identity.” Asked whether they belonged to Lashkar-e-Toiba and were suicide squad members, he said they were foreign militants and may have come from across the border.
“As per their action, it seems they were from a fidayeen squad,” he said.
Major General Dutta also said a large cache of arms and ammunition and war-like stores were recovered from the slain militants. He said the sanitising operation of the building was going on.
The battle-hardened militants had engaged the army’s elite para commandos, CRPF and policemen in a fierce gunbattle since Saturday evening. Security forces evacuated the building of over 120 people, including staff of the institute and civilians trapped inside it, after the militants stormed the building.
“We had to virtually fight face-to-face with them to gain control of the five-storeyed concrete building,” said an officer. He said army helicopters and a UAV-fitted with cameras were used to find the exact location of the militants. The five-storeyed building has about 44 rooms.
“Militants had a huge opportunity to hide and fire on security men. CRPF men trying to gain entry were thwarted by militants’ grenades,” GoC Dutta said. Then a plan was worked out to localise the militants, but as the ultras occupied vantage points, the three soldiers Captain Pawan Captain Tushar Majhan and Lance Naik Om Pakash, were killed in ensuing operations.