Gun battle rages on in J&K's Pampore; 2 CRPF jawans killed

Dozens of civilians who were trapped inside a building where one militant took shelter have been evacuated.

Srinagar: At least, two CRPF jawans have been killed and ten others wounded in a militant ambush on a force convoy outside the Kashmiri town of Pampore, 16-km south of Srinagar.

Three gunmen who after targeting the Srinagar-bound convoy of CRPF with gunfire along the Srinagar-Jammu highway at Pampore on Saturday afternoon fled into nearby J&K Entrepreneurship Development Institute (JK EDI) campus have been surrounded by the security forces and the intermittent firing between the two sides is on, officials said. One civilian identified as Abdul Gani Mir, 48, who works as a gardener at the campus was also injured in initial firing, police and hospital sources said.

While an armed stand-off in now under way, 115 students, faculty members and other staff who were trapped inside the campus have been evacuated to safer places, 25 of them from the main block where the militants have taken up positions.

Officials said that possibly there are no more civilians left within the campus and reinforcements from CRPF and J&K police’s counterinsurgency Special Operations Group (SoG) have been joined by a column of Army to take on holed up militants. Some of the students and faculty members who had been trapped inside the main block of the campus after the outbreak of gun battle told reporters that militants asked them to leave as they apparently did not want any harm should come to them.

A police official said that after opening fire at the CRPF convoy, the militant trio fled into nearby JK EDI campus. They took positions on ground and first floor of the main building and exchange of fire between the two sides started. Simultaneously efforts were being made to evacuate the trapped students and faculty members of the Institute, officials said.

Superintendant of Police (Awantipore range) Muhammad Irshad told reporters over the phone earlier that the situation was being handled “with utmost care”. He said, “Firing is going on but we are taking utmost care to ensure no harm comes to the civilians trapped inside the campus.”

A student who contacted a reporter friend on his mobile phone had said that there were more than 150 students inside the building when the firing outside it started. “On seeing gunmen rushing in, many students and some staff members sensing trouble fled towards the main road and then relocated to safer places,” the student had said. An official had said that computer lab staff was caught unawares and was trapped inside the building. Police had said it has reports about three dozen people including some students having been trapped inside the main building and there are many more present inside the hostel and other buildings within the campus.

Some of the students and teachers had said over the phone that they fear for their lives as massive firing between the holed up militants and security forces is on.

Former Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, had taken to social networking site to say “Praying this news is wrong. All JKEDI does is train youngsters to look beyond government jobs & become entrepreneurs”.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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