In the biggest strike on an Indian Army unit since the September 18 Uri attack, terrorists targeted an army camp at the XVI Corps headquarters in Nagrota near Jammu, killing two officers and seven soldiers. In a separate strike, another group of terrorists attacked a BSF patrol at Chamliyal in the Ramgarh sector of Samba district. A BSF DIG was among four injured in the incident. While three terrorists were killed in Nagrota, another three were gunned down at Chamliyal.
In Nagrota, where mopping operations were still on on Tuesday evening, troops fought back and foiled a hostage situation involving women and children. The terrorists targeted accommodation meant for army majors.
Defence spokesperson Lt Colonel Manish Mehta said two officers were among seven army personnel dead. While the army has not yet released the names of the dead and injured, official sources identified three of the seven dead as Major Kunal Gosavi of the 166 Medium Regiment, Lance Naik Kadam of 17 Rashtriya Rifles and Sepoy Ragwender of 12 Rashtriya Rifles.
The BSF DIG injured at Chamliyal was named as B S Kasana. In New Delhi, defence minister Manohar Parrikar said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had been briefed on the Nagrota attack.
“Statistics have shown that the attack is on military installations. Civilians are not being targeted. No civilian has been targeted as they seek local support. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been briefed on it,” Parrikar was quoted by the ANI news agency. The attacks came three days after Pakistan named general Qamar Javed Bajwa as its new army chief. He is considered an old Kashmir hand and has done stints with the Pakistan Army’s Rawalpindi-based X Corps, which oversees the area along the Line of Control with India.
It is still not clear how the heavily-armed terrorists managed to reach Nagrota but official sources believe they sneaked in from the Valley-end. But questions remain on how did they manage to get past at least a dozen nakas and checkposts on the road leading to Nagrota. Sources said the terrorists, attired in J&K police uniform, scaled a wall and stormed the 166 Medium Regiment premises shortly after 5 am Tuesday, hurling grenades and firing indiscriminately at the sentry post.
According to one account, the terrorists came in a Maruti car, crossed the Ban toll plaza, and after some distance, got off the vehicle and headed straight to the army camp. Stationed on land which one housed the village of Sarmoi, the 166 Medium Regiment unit forms part of the XVI Corps and is the first stop when one enters Nagrota from the Udhampur end.
Taking advantage of the dark — it was not yet daylight there at 5 am — the terrorists headed to the accommodation housing army Majors. There was a bid to take people, including women and children, hostage but that was foiled by troops who fought back.
By afternoon, three terrorists had been shot dead. Troops were still sanitising the premises, looking for anyone who may still be hiding or unexploded ordnance.
At Chamliyal, three terrorists were shot by BSF personnel as they tried to infiltrate with the help of cover fire from Pakistani troops. They were gunned down inside a tubewell room on a farm where they had sought shelter. A BSF constable was injured in the firefight.
Later, three personnel, including DIG Kasana, were injured as they tried to retrieve the bodies of the terrorists. The BSF denied reports that its men were injured because one of the bodies had been booby trapped with an improvised explosive device. D K Upadhyaya, IG BSF, said the DIG and the others were injured in firing from Pakistani troops when they tried to pull out the bodies from the tubewell room.