In a daring attack, unidentified gunmen wearing Army uniforms fired at a private vehicle in Kathua district of the Jammu region on Friday.
Four people, including two terrorists, one Army jawan and one civilian, were killed in the attack and the ensuing encounter.
The gunmen, who are suspected to be Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorists, 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 have been killed in the encounter. Meanwhile, an Army jawan, injured in the firing, has succumbed to his injuries.
The area is being searched to locate the third terrorist.
“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.
The terrorists opened fire at the occupants, who were on their way to Gurdaspur, and hijacked the vehicle along with driver Taraseem Singh.
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.
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.