Two to three heavily-armed terrorists were charred to death when a Kashmir-bound truck caught fire during an exchange of fire with security forces at Sidhra on the outskirts of Jammu on Wednesday morning amid high alert in the region ahead of the Republic Day celebrations next month, a police officer said.
Additional director general of police Mukesh Singh said the gunbattle was triggered around 7.30am amid low visibility because of fog. He added the exact number of terrorists killed will be known after the truck is examined. “…we suspect that there were two to three terrorists hiding in it.”
Singh said the firefight was triggered after a Quick Response Team (QRT) of the Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) Police observed unusual movement of the truck in Sidhra. “The QRT stopped the truck at Sidhra check post where its driver on the pretext of attending nature’s call fled. Searches have been launched to nab the driver.”
He said when the police team started checking the truck, it was fired upon by the terrorists hiding inside. “Additional reinforcements were rushed to the area as the gunfight began.”
The firefight was triggered months after a purported attempt to carry out a suicide attack near Sunjuwan military station in Jammu was foiled with the killing of two terrorists in April.
An assistant sub-inspector of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) was also killed while 10 security personnel were injured in the pre-dawn gunfight two days before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the region in April.
Modi visited Palli village of Samba on National Panchayati Raj Day on April 24 days later. It was his first visit to the region since the nullification of the Constitution’s Article 370, which gave J&K semi-autonomous status.
The terrorists entered the outskirts of Jammu city in April from the international border in the R S Pura sector and were holed up in a locality close to the military camp. They were apparently moving towards the Army camp when they were spotted.
Around the same time, a CISF bus carrying 15 personnel at Jalalabad near the camp was proceeding towards the Jammu airport. In a knee-jerk reaction around 3.45am, the two terrorists lobbed a grenade towards the bus and sprayed it with bullets before escaping into the nearby locality.