10 killed in attack on Indian army base in Kashmir

10 killed in attack on Indian army base in Kashmir

SAM Staff,
Indian Army soldiers outside the residential quarters of the Sunjawan army camp in Jammu yesterday, as a siege at the compound entered a second day. Photo: AFP

The death toll from a militant attack on an army base in the Indian-administered part of Kashmir has risen to 10, police said on Sunday (Feb 11), as a siege at the compound entered a second day.

A firefight erupted last Saturday when heavily armed militants stormed the base in Jammu, the second-largest city in the disputed Himalayan region bordering Pakistan.

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

“Five soldiers, one civilian and four terrorists have been killed,” 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.

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

Police said the attack began around 4.55am on Saturday when guards came under fire near the base’s boundary wall. The intruders took positions inside a complex meant for soldiers’ families as the army launched a counter-offensive to drive them out.

It is unclear whether any gunmen remain on the compound.

Hindu-majority Jammu, located in the foothills of the mountainous region, is relatively peaceful but has repeatedly seen militant assaults on military bases close to the frontier with Pakistan.

Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since their independence from Britain in 1947. Both claim the territory in full and have fought two wars over the region.

Tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians, have died in an armed insurgency that erupted in 1989 by militants demanding that Kashmir be granted independence or merged with Pakistan.

A similar strike on the base in 2003 killed 12 soldiers. In 2016, seven soldiers were killed in an attack in Jammu after suspected Pakistani militants in police uniforms stormed a major army base.

New Delhi accuses Islamabad of sending militants across the border to attack the roughly half a million soldiers stationed in the Indian-run part of the divided territory, a charge denied by Pakistan.