Zee Media Bureau
Jammu: Indian Army troops on Friday evening killed a third terrorist who belonged to the group which earlier this morning hijacked a private vehicle and attacked an Army camp in Kathua district of the Jammu region.
Security forces have also recovered the body of the driver of hijacked vehicle. Army sources said the terrorists had slashed his throat.
In total, six men were killed – two civilians including the driver, an Army jawan and three terrorists.
In the daring attack carried out this morning, suspected Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorists from Pakistan wearing Army uniforms fired at occupants of a private vehicle in Kathua district, who were on their way to Gurdaspur, and hijacked the car along with driver Taraseem Singh.
The gunmen were intercepted after a two-hour chase near an Army camp and a private college in Kalibari-Janglote belt of Kathua district, triggering a heavy exchange of fire between the two sides. Two terrorists were killed in the encounter, while the third managed to escape.
He was intercepted after an intense search and killed by the security forces.
An Army jawan, injured in the morning encounter, succumbed to his injuries later.
"Three persons wearing Army uniform intercepted a SUV, forced out the occupants and opened fire on them at Tarnah Nallah bridge in Dayala Chak belt of Kathua district (on the Jammu-Pathankote national highway) around 4.30 am Friday," a police officer said.
One of the injured told police that the only word uttered by terrorist was "utro" (get down) and after which the driver was separated from the passengers.
Director General of Jammu and Kashmir Police Ashok Prasad told a news agency that immediately after the police control room was informed at 4:47 am, all check posts and security establishments were alerted.
Despite bad weather, helicopters were pressed into service to locate the vehicle which was finally spotted in a nallah (seasonal canal) outside 111 Rocket division in Kathua, he said.
A lesser-known `Al Shohada Brigade`, a shadow outfit of LeT, today claimed responsibility for the attack.
Meanwhile, Army Chief General Bikram Singh has briefed Defence Minister AK Antony about the encounter, a Defence Ministry official said.
After hijacking the vehicle, the gunmen attacked an Army camp near Janglote in the same district where a gunfight started between them and security personnel, the officer added.
Senior Army officials were informed as a result of which terrorists could not even approach the main gate of the Army camp where an alert guard had engaged them in fire fighting.
The terrorists are suspected to have entered through Tarlah Nallah in order to carry out a suicide attack ahead of Lok Sabha polls.
The same route was used by terrorists to enter into the state on September 26 last year.
The vehicle was carrying five persons including the driver. Out of this Ajit Ram, a resident of Vijaypur in Jammu, was declared brought dead by the Government Medical College Hospital while other three -- Kamaljeet Singh, Gurpreet Singh and Santokh Singh -- were being treated.
After the twin terror strikes on the highway, traffic on the otherwise busy Jammu-Pathankot highway was stopped.
Security was stepped up at Army camps and important places in Kathua, Samba and Jammu districts.
On microblogging website Twitter, Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah condemned the attack.
I'd like to unequivocally condemn today's militant attack in Kathua area of Jammu. As this is very much still an ongoing operation 1/n
— Omar Abdullah (@abdullah_omar) March 28, 2014
I will not be commenting or reacting to today's events until the security forces have declared the operation as concluded. 2/2
— Omar Abdullah (@abdullah_omar) March 28, 2014
Dayala Chak, 55 km from Jammu on the Jammu-Pathankote national highway, falls under the jurisdiction of Hira Nagar police station in Kathua district which was attacked by terrorists on September 26, 2013.
Eleven people -- five policemen, a civilian, two Army men, including a major, and three terrorists -- were were killed in the 2013 terror attack.
After attacking the Hira Nagar police station, the terrorists had entered an Army camp on the Pathankote-Jammu national highway near Samba town and killed a major and a soldier.
An outfit calling itself the `Shohada Brigade` had claimed responsibility for the twin terror attacks. However, security forces believe the Lashkar-e-Toiba was behind it.
BJP`s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi had addressed an election rally in Hira Nagar town on Wednesday.
Kathua district is one of the voting districts for the Udhampur Lok Sabha constituency where Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad is fighting the elections.
(With Agency inputs)