Wed, Oct 04, 2017 - Page 6 News List

Rebels storm Indian paramilitary camp

GUNBATTLE:Two suspected militants and one soldier were killed in the clashes, while one rebel was still holed up in the Kashmir base camp and firing at soldiers

AP, SRINAGAR, India

Smoke and dust rise from an Indian Border Security Force building that was held by suspected militants, after it was hit by explosives fired by government forces on the outskirts of Srinagar, Indian-held Kashmir, yesterday.

Photo: EPA

A group of rebels fighting Indian rule stormed a paramilitary camp near the airport in the disputed region of Kashmir early yesterday — a brazen attack targeting one of the region’s most strategic and well-guarded zones that left at least three dead.

Soldiers engaged the rebels in a gunbattle that was still raging nine hours later. Police said at least two suspected militants and one border guard officer were killed.

The rebels, dressed in military combat uniforms, began the attack by hurling grenades and spraying automatic gunfire on the camp, which houses a battalion of India’s Border Security Force, police said.

Nearby residents said they heard dozens of blasts and gunfire.

Previously, the camp served as one of several notorious interrogation centers where authorities detained, questioned and allegedly tortured suspected rebels and their sympathizers.

The camp sits on a plateau next to Srinagar’s main airport, separated only by barbed wire.

Counterinsurgency police and paramilitary commandos rushed to the scene and armored vehicles dotted the entire road leading to the airport.

Troops encircled the main building of the camp, where at least one militant was holed up and firing out at the soldiers, a police officer said.

The officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with department policy, said the militants breached multiple layers of high security outside and inside the camp while exchanging intense gunfire with government forces.

Aside from the fatalities, at least three soldiers were injured, police officer S.P. Vaid said.

Officials said the airport, which is run and controlled by the military, was safe.

Still, authorities suspended flights for about four hours before resuming operations around noon. At least one early morning flight from New Delhi was canceled and three others delayed.

Many top former bureaucrats, police officials and politicians have residences in the area.

No anti-India rebel group immediately commented on the fighting.

Most attacks target military and paramilitary convoys or police outposts, but anti-India rebels have staged similar attacks in recent months, including one deadly attack in August in which four police officials, four paramilitary soldiers and two suspected militants were killed after rebels stormed a police camp, triggering daylong fighting.

Last year, the rebels mounted their deadliest attack on a military base in recent years after militants sneaked into a crucial Indian military base and killed at least 19 soldiers. The four attackers were also killed.

India later retaliated, saying its Special Forces conducted a “surgical strike” against militants inside the Pakistani-controlled part of Kashmir.

Islamabad rejected the Indian account, saying it was routine cross-border fire.

Since then, the nuclear-armed rivals have engaged in regular firing along their de facto frontier.

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