Siege of army base in held Kashmir continues; toll now 10

Siege of army base in held Kashmir continues; toll now 10

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SRINAGAR: The death toll from a suspected militant attack on an army base in India-held Kashmir climbed to 10, police said, as a siege at the compound stretched into a second day.

A firefight erupted on Saturday when an unknown number of heavily-armed men stormed the base in Jammu, the second-largest city in the disputed Himalayan region bordering Pakistan.

Authorities initially said four people were killed in the pre-dawn strike, but updated the death toll as elite Indian commandos flanked by armoured vehicles searched the sprawling compound.

Pakistan rejects India’s allegations

India’s army chief, Bipin Rawat, reached Jammu on Sunday morning to review the operation.

“Five soldiers, one civilian and four terrorists have been killed so far,” police chief Shesh Paul Vaid said.

Nine others, including women and children, were injured in the attack that the Indian army blamed on Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM).

The director general of police for Jammu and Kashmir, S.P. Vaid, said communications intercepts “suggest that the terrorists involved in the attack belong to Jaish-e-Mohammad group”.

Meanwhile, Pakistan rejected Indian allegations regarding the attack on the military camp in held Kashmir.

In a statement issued in Islamabad, Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal said it was a pattern that Indian officials made irresponsible statements even before any investigation into any incident had been initiated.

“We are confident that the world community would take due cognisance of India’s smear campaign against Pakistan, and the deliberate creation of war hysteria,” he said.

Local broadcasters showed tanks rolling into the Sunjawan army camp late on Saturday evening and a helicopter hovering overhead as the attack unfolded.

Police said the assault began around 4:55am on Saturday when guards came under a hail of bullets near the base’s boundary wall.

The intruders took positions inside a residential complex meant for soldiers’ families as the army launched a counter-offensive to drive them out.

Published in Dawn, February 12th, 2018

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