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2 Police Killed in Kashmir

Kashmir and Jammu

Militants stormed a police station in Indian Kashmir and opened fire, killing two police officers, local authorities said.

At least three militants attacked the station Friday in the Kathua district of Kashmir's Jammu region.

The encounter ended with security officials killing two of the militants, who were hiding in the Rajbagh police station, Indian Interior Minister Rajnath Singh told parliament on Friday.

The attack snapped a three-month lull in attacks that the nationalist government has sworn to end. Kathua district is about 15 km from the border with Pakistan, which India has long blamed for pushing militants into its part of the disputed region.

The three armed men forced their way into the police station, firing indiscriminately, a police officer said. The army had been called in to flush out the attackers, who the police officer described as “fedayeen” who were ready to die.

“Madam Speaker, according to the latest information received, the state police and paramilitary CRPF have been successful in killing the two militants. I believe that the entire house appreciates the valor of the Jammu and Kashmir police and CRPF personnel who have been successful in killing the fedayeen militants,” said Interior Minister, Rajnath Singh.

Singh added that apart from the militants, seven personnel of the 121 Battalion of India's paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), two personnel of Jammu and Kashmir police and a civilian were injured in the encounter.

The injured security personnel were taken to the city hospital and some were admitted to the emergency ward.

Inspector General Danesh Rana, said that the militants had used civilians as a cover to gain entry into the police station.

“Two militants in combat uniforms, they used public transport on the highway and they reached police station Rajbagh. At the police station Rajbagh they hijacked another vehicle and used those civilians to gain entry inside the police station. While they did that they fired on the sentry who was on duty and one of the civilians and shot them dead. After that they entered the premises of the police station. As soon as we got the information we sent our troops. They had cordoned the area, they had cordoned the police station,” said Rana.

Rana added that while the encounter went on, 15-16 CRPF personnel were holed up in their barrack on the floor above.

Some documents have been recovered from the militants.

Rana said it was fresh infiltration attempt by militants after a lull.

“Past experience tells us that whenever these attacks happen, they happen in the wee hours in the morning. That makes us feel that they intrude inside our area taking advantage of the darkness and that is what has happened. That shows us from the past experience that it could be fresh infiltration,” said Rana.

Reportedly, India's paramilitary Border Security Force (BSF) had thwarted 11 infiltration attempts by militants in January along the international border in Jammu and Kashmir.

The last big attack in Kashmir occurred in December, when militants struck at an army camp in Uri, also near the border with Pakistan but further up the Kashmir valley.

India and Pakistan both claim all of Kashmir, which is divided by a Line of Control - a de facto border.

Pakistan denies allegations that it supports the militants and instead calls for talks to resolve the dispute at the heart of six decades of hostility with India.

The neighboring countries have fought two of their three wars on their rival claims to the Himalayan region.

Some information for this report came from Reuters.