It has been more than 48 hours since a group of terrorists entered a government building in Pampore, around 15 km from Srinagar in Kashmir. A standoff with security forces continues for the third day on Wednesday.
One of the three terrorists believed to be inside may have been killed, a police officer said.
Security forces have used over 50 rockets, machines guns and explosives in efforts to kill or flush out the terrorists hiding inside the battered building, used to offer vocational training to young Kashmiris.
An army soldier was injured in the initial firing on Monday. Since then the army has also brought in special forces of the 9 Para unit for the operation. The troops of the same unit had carried out surgical strikes in Pakistan last month (the information being shared here is delayed so as not to jeopardize the security forces fighting the terrorists).
Officials said the encounter has stretched on because the building offers a “bunker-like” protection to the terrorists. Seemingly well-stocked in ammunition and supplies, they have demonstrated a willingness to prolong the operation. Despite the building catching fire several times, terrorists have not come out.
There are no hostages, sources said, because classes have been suspended for more than three months because of the unrest in the state that began with the killing of 22-year-old terrorist Burhan Wani.
The terrorists entered the building in saffron-rich Pampore at 6.30 am on Monday. The same institute had been targeted in a major attack in February. Five soldiers and a civilian were killed then; three terrorists were shot dead.
Sources said that terrorists who broke into the institute in the morning approached the campus on the outskirts of Srinagar through boats on the River Jhelum, which flows from Kashmir into Pakistan. According to the police, the terrorists then set sections of the Entrepreneurship Development Institute (EDI) hostel building on fire to lure security forces. When they arrived, a major gunbattle broke out.
Intel agencies have been warning of terror attacks in retaliation for the surgical strikes conducted by India across the Line of Control two weeks ago. Soldiers raided staging areas in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir where terrorists were waiting to cross the border and attack major cities, the army has said.
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