Pampore attack: Militants held up inside EDI building for 24 hours, Army steps up counter attack

Loud explosions were heard early on Tuesday morning as security forces stepped up the counter attack against militants holed up in a government building in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pampore.

An unconfirmed number of militants had entered the Jammu and Kashmir Entrepreneurship Development Institute complex in Pampore on Monday, leaving one soldier injured in the encounter.The soldier sustained a Gunshot Wound on his foot.

Loud explosions were heard till 1 am in the night and again at 5:30am on Tuesday morning.

It appears the Army is attacking the multi storied complex with heavy arms, hoping to either kill the militants or flush them out of the government building.

According to a police officer, the heavily armed militants entered the Jammu and Kashmir Entrepreneurship Development Institute (JKEDI) in Pampore town in the morning and began firing at security forces.

The militants changed their positions constantly to avoid getting killed, the officer said. “They are firing intermittently and frequently changing their position inside the building.”

The security forces fired rockets and used light machine guns in a bid to localize the guerrillas so as to launch a final assault without suffering major casualties, official sources said.

The joint operation was launched by the army, the Special Operations Group of the state police and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) soon after the militants’ presence was reported.

“Security forces have surrounded the building and all escape routes have been sealed,” a police officer said. The building has more than 200 rooms.

Residents in the area told IANS that the militants entered the institute from the river side and were holed up inside the hostel.

This is the second time the EDI complex, which trains and finances young men and women to be entrepreneurs, has been attacked this year. A three-day encounter in February left seven people, including three army commandos, dead.

Sources had said on Monday that militants were holed up on the sixth and seventh floors of the hostel building and had used furniture as barricades against the army. A part of the building appeared to be damaged by the fire during the gunfight on Monday.

There were no students in the building when the attack began as classes remain suspended due to the ongoing Kashmir unrest. A few cooks who were inside were safely evacuated from the complex.

Forces had made arrangements on Monday to light up the complex so the militants, whose exact number is not known, don’t flee under the cover of darkness at night.

After entering the complex, the militants set on fire a few mattresses inside a hostel room to attract the attention of the police and other security forces, who arrived within minutes of the smoke emanating from the building, a police official said on Monday.

The institute, situated on a strategic arterial road connecting Jammu and Srinagar, has three buildings — a guest house, a hostel complex and the main office building — on a 3.5 acre land on the Jhelum.

The road on which the institute is located is the lifeline not only for local supplies but is the only all-weather link used by the army to reach the Srinagar-based 15 Corps headquarters.

Militants have stepped up attack in the state after the Indian Army announced that it had conducted surgical strikes on terror launch pads across the Line of Control in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The army’s nearly five-hour-long operation was launched in the wake of then September 18 terror strike on an Uri army camp that left 19 soldiers dead.

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