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Gun battle ends, hostages rescued

Shujaat Bukhari

Jammu on high alert; presence of more militants feared


Militants have killed seven people since Wednesday morning

Security beefed up in areas along the International Border and LoC


Photo: AP

END OF AN ORDEAL: Kajal, after being rescued by the security forces, at her house in Chinoor, on the outskirts of Jammu, on Thursday.

SRINAGAR: The 19-hour gun battle between three militants and security forces in Chinoor, on the outskirts of Jammu, ended late on Wednesday night with the killing of the militants and the rescue of their hostages — four children, their mother, another woman and a man — from a house.

Two other hostages, a tenant and a neighbour, were killed by the militants. House-owner Bilo Ram’s wife was injured when the militants shot at her. The children were identified as Sheetal (9), Vipin (2), Ashad (7) and Kajal (4).

In the encounter that began on Wednesday morning, Army man Shiv Murari was killed when he chased the militants inside the house.

Before taking refuge in the house, the militants came in a goods carrier in khakis and attacked an Army check-post in the Domana-Mishriwala area on the Jammu-Akhnoor-Poonch highway, killing a Junior Commissioned Officer.

They later killed Army man Vijay Kumar, who had come home on leave, before taking away his three-wheeler, and two civilians.

Joint operation

The operation to flush out the militants was jointly launched by the Army’s Special Forces, the CRPF and the Jammu and Kashmir Police, Manohar Singh, Senior Superintendent of Police, Jammu, said.

“The operation is over with the killing of all three militants,” he said. It took longer time to neutralise them as “we had to rescue the civilians inside.”

A high alert has been sounded in Jammu as the authorities suspect that more militants, who might have infiltrated from across the border under the cover of firing by the Pakistani forces on Tuesday, could be present in the area.

Precautions

Mr. Singh said: “We have information that there may be more militants. So we are taking all precautions. The fence along the International Border has been cut. So we suspect that the number of militants who had crossed may be much more.”

Security has also been beefed up in areas along the International Border and the Line of Control and the police have intensified frisking and checking of vehicles. All entry and exit points in the city were sealed.

Search operations

The security forces also conducted search operations in Muthi, Gajansoo, Marh, Akhnoor, Gharota, Hiranagar and other places, including the adjoining border areas.

Director General of Police Kuldip Khuda said police stations were asked to monitor the situation round-the-clock in their areas.

There were reports of suspicious movement of some persons in Reasi and forces were rushed there, Mr Khoda told The Hindu.

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