A soldier was injured on Monday in a gunfight that erupted after 2-3 militants opened fire at security forces from a government complex near Pampore town of south Kashmir’s Pulwama district, police and eyewitnesses said.
The militants were trapped inside the seven-floor hostel building of Jammu and Kashmir Entrepreneurship Development Institute (JKEDI) located on the banks of the Jhelum river, some 12 km from the Srinagar city centre, officials said.
“Security forces have surrounded the building and all escape routes of the militants were sealed,” a police officer said.
A soldier was hit by a bullet and has been evacuated to a nearby hospital, the officer said.
Residents living nearby told IANS that the militants entered the institute complex from the river side and captured the hostel building.
There were some JKEDI employees inside the complex at the time of the attack but most of them said they were not sure how the militants got inside.
“We don’t know exactly what happened. We saw smoke coming out of the top floor of the hostel and called the fire brigade and police,” a JKEDI employee told IANS, speaking on anonymity.
“When the security forces arrived and militants began firing at them and suddenly there were guns roaring from all sides,” he added.
The main building of the institute was razed down in a February shootout when militants had captured it and launched a major attack on the security forces.
Militants had killed six persons – a civilian, three soldiers, and two paramilitary troopers before three militants were gunned down in the battle that raged for nearly three days.
The institute, situated on the strategic arterial road connecting Jammu and Srinagar, has three buildings – a guest house, a hostel complex and the main office building – on a large swath of 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 that is the nerve centre of the fight against militancy in the state.
The area around the building houses a government-owned joinery factory and a highly secured complex of medium and shortwave radio transmitters of Radio Kashmir, Srinagar.