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Militants follow Afghan model, five killed in attack on BRO

Militants follow Afghan model, five killed in attack on BRO

Author: Express News Service
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: June 14, 2008
URL: http://www.indianexpress.com/story/322667.html

Introduction: Team ambushed in Kishtwar, first major attack on BRO in Jammu & Kashmir since 1999

In the first major attack on the Border Roads Organization (BRO) in Jammu and Kashmir since 1999, five personnel, including a Lieutenant Colonel of a Border Roads Task Force (BRTF) team were killed in an ambush by militants in Kishtwar district on Friday evening.

Army officials said that the five-member team, which included Lt Col Ajay Kumar Verma, GREF engineer S K Singh, a protection force of two Army jawans from the JAKRIF regiment and their driver, was on its way to inspect construction work on the Chattroo-Simthan road when it came under heavy fire.

Sources said that a group of militants hiding in the area saw the team while they were going beyond Watsar towards Simpthan and laid an ambush on the Chattroo-Simpthan road by blocking it with stones.

The militants then fired upon the vehicle carrying the team with AK rifles and killed all five officials. The other deceased have been identified as Naik Jitender Singh, Rifleman Punjabi Singh and GREF driver Kirti Singh.

The Army and police have now launched extensive combing operations in the area to flush out the terrorists who managed to escape in dense forests after carrying out the attack. The Inspector General of Police, Jammu zone, K Rajendra, said that "a sustained search operation has been launched and the militant outfit which carried out the attack is yet to be identified."

Work on the Chattroo-Simthan road is considered crucial as it will connect Kishtwar district with Anantnag of the Kashmir Valley. However, BRO officials say that there will be a slowdown till adequate security is provided to its teams working in the area. "Unless extra security is provided, it will be very difficult to work in the area. There will certainly be a slowdown in the entire BEACON sector that covers more than 2,000 km of roads," a senior BRO officer said.

The last incident, in which four BRO officials were massacred near Surankote in Poonch, took place in 1999. The ambush is believed to be inspired by the recent spate of suicide attacks on BRO teams in Afghanistan that projected them as 'soft targets'. "The attack shows the desperation of militants operating in Kashmir. They have taken on a soft target and are following the example set by Taliban in Afghanistan," a senior officer at Army HQ said.

Five Indian personnel working on the strategic Zaranj-Delaram road project in Afghanistan's Nimroz province have been killed since 2005. There have already been three suicide attacks this year.

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