Lethpora Encounter | One of the militants killed was J&K cop's son

TNN Bureau. Updated: 1/2/2018 12:05:12 PM

Srinagar: Khanday was a class X student and became a militant three months ago. He was among two of the militants killed on Sunday

Hours before New Year's eve, three heavily armed Jaish terrorists attacked CRPF training camp in Awantipora. One of them identified as 16-year-old Fardeen Ahmad Khanday, son of police constable Ghulam Mohammad khandey reportedly posted in Srinagar in J-K police.

Khanday was a class X student and became a militant three months ago. He was among two of the militants killed on Sunday.

Khanday was a resident of Tral, hometown of poster boy for Hizbul mujahideen, Burhan Wani. The other fidayeen was identified as 22-year-old Manzoor Baba Drubgam also in south kashmir Pulwama district.

The third terrorist continued to engage with security forces until the last reports came in. J-K senior cops admit this is a dangerous trend even though they have attempted to reach out to local youth including those who want to surrender.

A source said the fact that one of the militants was one of their own came as a shock. HE said that this needed to be addressed and could be security forces' new worry.
Local militants joining hands with JHaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) to launch fidayeen has traditionally been the handiwork of hard Pakistani terrorist operatives.

This is also a concern as the trend makes a comeback after 15 years when local militants have become Fidayeen.

The last case was in 2003 when a local militant was part of a fidayeen squad that killed five CRPF personnel.

Sources said the operations would continue for the night but any searches will happen only on Monday morning at day break.

Forces believe that a local worker in at CRPF camp might have given out details which led to the breach in what is suspected to be a poorly-guarded camp with broken walls at various fronts.

The security concern was shared several times by J-K police even as National Security Guard (NSG) personnel, who camped at Lethapora for months, left just two weeks ago.

"The camp has been on the terror radar. Despite warnings to the CRPF, security was not enhanced leading to several casualties," a source who was in the camp till sometime ago told India today.

The security forces and CRPF were in general aware of an impending attack after JEM's top commander Noor Mohammed Tantray was killed by security forces earlier this week, which is possibly why the terror module carried out a revenge attack.

A senior source told India today "At 1pm on Saturday , Jammu Kashmir police shared specific intel. Two JeM terrorists would attack a group training centre in Lethapora within 24 hours. The attack happened in 13 hours."

The first burst of fire came shortly after 2am. A terrorist opened fire indiscriminately, killing one CRPF personnel.

Constable Sirajuddin Soz of Budgam aimed at the terrorist from a residential complex but was killed minutes later after he attempted to leave the building.

He was shot just as he was coming out to join other troopers. Soz was in type 2 quarters of block number 3 where the terrorists were holed up.

The attack happened in the under-construction CRPF camp spread across 200 acres. The sentry guards were on high alert.

The second in command (2IC)and the assistant 2IC were on patrol when the terrorist barged in. Three CRPF personnel were injured.

The gunmen lobbed Under Barrel Rocket Launcher UBGL grenades and fired automatic weapons outside the CRPF camp, sources said.

Heavy police reinforcement was rushed to the spot. Sources said the suicide attack was specifically targeted at the 185 battalion of CRPF in Lethapora, Awantipora in Pulwama district.

While some within the forces hinted at a security lapse, this could have also been a failure to foil an attack despite specific intel info form CRPF Director General (DG) RR Bhatnagar was quick to come to the defence of his men.

"The terrorists were engaged immediately by our troops and were holed up in one building. The families and civilians were evacuated," a source said.

Sources told India Today that the main building consists of 3 blocks with 4 floors each. The CRPF cleared each block. Block 1 was used as accommodation for families of officers while the second was the main office including CO and 2IC offices. Number 3 was targeted by militants, which was the CRPF block.

There is a hospital on the ground floor, and a control room in the first floor where 4 troopers on duty were trapped.

IG Muneer Khan said "Two of the jawans have been safely evacuated while the process of extricating others is on."

Khan further said "Though terrorist managed to barge in, they could not do the full scale damage they intended to do."

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