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Sunday, 7 December 2014

From Today's Papers - 07 Dec 2014

J&K attackers bear Pak stamp: Army
Pak marking found on food packets, ammunition | PM says it’s attack on democracy
The Army today said the food packets and ammunition recovered from the six militants killed in a gun battle in Mohura, Uri, bore the marking of Pakistan. The government termed the terror attacks in Jammu and Kashmir a desperate attempt to derail the ongoing Assembly elections in the state.

While Defence sources blamed the Lashkar-e-Toiba for the Uri attack, no militant outfit has claimed responsibility so far.
Sources said the militants, who had infiltrated recently through the Uri sector, were well trained and prepared for a long haul at the artillery base of 31 Field Regiment of Rampur Brigade, one of the oldest brigades in Kashmir.

“The recovery of food items with Paksitani marking and a large quantity of sophisticated arms and ammunition indicate the militants had plans to engage the troops over a long period,” a source said, adding that a large dump of artillery shells was stored in the Army base.

The food items recovered included canned packets of stew keema, chicken achari, chicken karahi, daal maash (all ready-to-eat foods) and dry fruits, including dates and almonds.
The sources said the militants had a fairly good idea about the artillery base at Mohura and the location of the bunkers.

“The militants had made meticulous planning to storm the camp and it seems they knew what they had to do,” a source said.

The Army also recovered some packets containing a whitish powder from the slain militants. It is trying to ascertain the exact nature of the powder.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said the attacks were aimed at punctuating the positive atmosphere being generated in the state through high voter turnout. “Attacks in Jammu and Kashmir are condemnable…. 125 crore Indians bow to our brave Army men who sacrificed their lives. These men lived and died for the nation. We won’t forget them,” he said in a statement.

Without naming Pakistan, Modi at an election rally in Jharkhand said terrorists made a “shameful attempt” to attack the democracy of India.

Chief of Army Staff General Dalbir Singh Suhag, who arrived in Srinagar today, said: “It appears a desperate attempt to disrupt the third phase of elections. I assure the nation that these elements will not be allowed to succeed in disrupting the democratic process.”

General Suhag also paid tribute to the slain security force personnel by laying wreaths on their coffins at Badamibagh Cantonment. He reviewed the security situation in the state in the wake of the terror attacks.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar emphasised determination of the government to fight terrorism and its perpetrators. Condemning the “cowardly” strikes, he said sacrifices made by the security forces will not go in vain. “We (will) continue our fight terror and their perpetrators,” he said in a tweet.

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi blamed Pakistan for the act and said “these destabilising attempts need to be crushed with resolve”.

Eight soldiers, including a Lieutenant Colonel, three policemen and six militants (all foreign nationals), were killed in one of the deadliest encounters in the recent past at Mohura, 100 km from Srinagar, on Friday.

The area falls in the Uri Assembly constituency, which goes to the polls on December 9 along with 15 other constituencies in three districts of Kashmir.

Six AK rifles with 55 magazines, two shotguns, two night vision binoculars, four radio sets, 32 grenades, a medical kit and a large quantity of miscellaneous warlike stores were recovered from the scene.

“The recovery of shotguns is significant,” a source said.

The six militants killed in the Nowgam sector of Kupwara district earlier this week when polling was on in five Assembly segments of the district may also have planned a similar attack, said sources.

“The weapons and ammunition recovered from the encounters scenes are similar, indicating the Nowgam group too had a similar plan,” a source said.
Top Al-Qaida leader killed in Pak raid
Peshawar, December 6
The chief of Al-Qaida's global operations, wanted by the US over a 2009 plot to attack the New York subway system, was killed in a raid in Pakistan's restive tribal region, the country's military said today.

Saudi-born Adnan Shukrijuma was killed in the Shinwarsak area of the South Waziristan tribal district.

“His accomplice and local facilitator were also killed in the raid," said a statement by the military's inter-services public relations.

The army said Shukrijuma was a member of the core Al-Qaida leadership and was in charge of its global operations. During the raid, a soldier was killed and another injured.

Shukrijuma was among the five men indicted in the US over a plot to bomb New York's subway system under orders from Al-Qaida leaders in Pakistan.

The New York indictment links him to the Manhattan plot and a similar never-executed scheme to attack British subways, according to media reports.

The US has long said the Saudi native was a threat to America and put USD 5 million reward for his capture.

A 2003 report in the _Washington Post termed Shukrijuma as a possible terrorism organiser in the style of Mohamed Atta, the suspected ringleader of the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Following the killing of Shukrijuma, Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif tweeted that all terrorists would be eliminated from Pakistan's soil. "None will be spared."

Pakistan military spokesman Major General Asim Bajwa tweeted: "Top Al-Qaida Comd Adnan Al Shukri Aljuma with his 1 companion killed by Pak Army raid in S Waziristan today."

He also tweeted that five "terrorists" were also arrested during the raid.

Shukrijuma had moved to South Waziristan from North Waziristan due to the ongoing Zarb-i-Azb military operation, the ISPR statement said.

The comprehensive military campaign against foreign and local militants was launched a week after a brazen insurgent attack on the country's busiest airport in Karachi in June.

The military say they have killed over 1,100 militants so far, with 100 soldiers losing their lives in the operation.

The mostly-lawless tribal areas that border Afghanistan have been a hideout for militants —including Al-Qaida and the homegrown Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) as well as foreign fighters such as Uzbeks and Uighurs. — PTI
Army pays homage to Mohura martyrs
Tribune News Service

Jammu, December 6
In a wreath laying ceremony conducted by the Army, the Jammu Military Station today paid homage to the valiant soldiers, who laid down their lives while combating terrorists at Mohura in the Uri Sector on December 5.

The martyrs, Lt Col Sankalp Kumar, Hav Subhash Chand, Lance Naik Gurmail Singh, Naik Panna Lal Yadav, Gunner Satnam Singh, Lance Naik Sukhwinder Singh, DMT Kuldeep Kumar and Gunner Manpreet Singh were all part of the Valley’s Dagger Division, said a Defence spokesperson here this evening.

Last rites of the martyr Lance Naik Gurmail Singh with full military honours were performed at his native place Makhanpur in the Bishnah area of Jammu, he added.
Friday attacks an attempt to disrupt polls: Army Chief
Says will not allow inimical elements to disturb democratic process
Tribune News Service

Srinagar, December 6
A day after militants struck in Uri and three other places in Kashmir, the Army Chief Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag said the attacks were an attempt by “inimical elements” to “disrupt” the remaining phases of the ongoing Assembly polls in the state.

“They (militants) were unnerved by the high voter turnout in the first two phases. I assure the nation that these elements will not be allowed to succeed in disrupting the democratic process,” the Army Chief said here.

The officer paid homage to the slain soldiers killed in the Mohura attack and also reviewed the security situation in the state.

“Army Chief Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag, who had come from Delhi to be a part of the wreath laying ceremony, saluted the martyrs and laid wreaths for them. The bodies of the martyrs were then sent by air to their home towns for the last rites,” a Defence spokesperson said.

“The Army Chief expressed satisfaction at the high state of alertness of the forces and commended their level of commitment and preparation, which has ensured that the mala fide intentions of our adversaries have not been able to dent the spirit of the population,” the spokesperson added.

The Army Chief attributed the peaceful atmosphere in which the polls have been conducted in the first two phases to the efforts put in by all the security forces.
New terror tactics? Attackers remain ‘unattached’

Azhar Qadri

Tribune News Service

Srinagar, December 6
It was the deadliest attack in the recent years in the Kashmir region when a squad of six militants on a suicidal mission penetrated deep inside a conventional Army base housing a wartime artillery unit in the heavily fortified Uri sector near the Line of Control in a pre-dawn raid on Friday.

However, the most perplexing question that is unanswered is which of the militant groups, who have an intention and the experience of staging such an elaborate raid, carried out the attack?

No militant group has so far claimed the responsibility for the attack in which eight soldiers and three policemen were killed, which is extremely unusual and hints at the emergence of a new gambit. In the past, militant groups had hurriedly owned the responsibility of attacks and blasts, even those which had a minuscule impact. On some occasions, multiple groups had accepted the ownership for a single attack.

This time, nobody has come forward even as 24 hours have passed since the Uri attack ended.

Army sources said documents found from the slain militants were being deciphered, while police sources said no militant group owning the Uri attack might be an attempt to throw investigators into the dark.

The Tribune profiles the probable groups which have the potential, experience and the will to launch the Friday’s Uri attack.

Profile of probables
Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT): It has the expertise to stage deadly ‘fidayeen attacks’ and has carried out such attacks in the past also. The group was founded in 1990 by Hafiz Saeed. According to the US government’s National Counter Terrorism Centre, the LeT’s presence in Kashmir dates back to 1993.

Sources in the state police’s counter-insurgency unit said LeT was the main suspect behind the Uri attack. “If it is the Lashkar-e-Toiba, the reason they have not claimed the attack is that India is now reacting very potently to such incidents,” a source said.

In the past, the LeT had carried out fidayeen attacks similar to the one in Uri yesterday on the eve of Prime Ministers’ visits to Kashmir. The last such attack was carried out in June 2013 when LeT’s two-member fidayeen squad ambushed an Army vehicle at Hyderpora in Srinagar on the eve of then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to the city.

“Recently, we are seeing a trend that all attacks are claimed by the Hizbul Mujahideen, even those which we are sure have been carried out by the Lashkar-e-Toiba,” the source said. Police investigation had found that the Hyderpora ambush was planned and carried out by LeT militants. However, the Hizbul Mujahideen had claimed its responsibility within a few hours of the attack.

Though such suicidal raids have been a trademark of the LeT, their squads have always been of two to four men, while the militants who carried out the yesterday’s attack in Uri were six in number.

The LeT was banned by the Pakistani government in January 2002 and following the November 2003 ceasefire between Indian and Pakistani army on the Line of Control, its footprint has depleted in Kashmir and the group has almost vanished in the Jammu region. Its current strength in Kashmir is estimated to be around 40-60 militants and its key commanders in the region are Qasim and Huraira, both foreigners, and Sajad Bhat, a Srinagar resident.

Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM): It appeared in Kashmir in April 2000 with a major attack when a suicide car bomber blasted his way through the main entrance of the Army’s Srinagar-based Corps headquarters. The group was founded by Pakistani cleric Maulana Masood Azhar, who was released by the Indian authorities in 1999 in exchange for the hijacked IC-814 passenger plane. The group mixed suicide car bombers and fidayeen raids, like the ones it carried out on the J&K Legislative Assembly Complex in October 2001 and Parliament in December 2001.

Sources said the group had the experience and a set-up to carry out the yesterday’s Uri attack and remains the second possible suspect. The group’s footprint in Kashmir diminished after it was banned by Pakistan in January 2002 and following defections to Taliban.

Hizbul Mujahideen (HM): Among the three identified groups active in Kashmir, the Hizbul Mujahideen is the only group to have a local leadership and is unlikely to have attacked the Army installation at Uri.

The group was founded in 1990 by cadres of the socio-political organisation Jamaat-e-Islami. It is led by Syed Salahuddin, the nom de guerre of Mohammad Yousuf Shah, who had contested and lost the 1987 election, which is widely considered to have been rigged.

Sources said though the Hizbul Mujahideen had an available set-up across the region, it lacked manpower for such attacks.

The group had an expertise in carrying out deadly attacks using improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and follows a typical pattern of a militant guerrilla organisation – carry out hit-and-run attacks and survive. The HM has rarely carried out any suicide raid in the region.

Shuhada Brigade: No one knows who they exactly are, but it is considered to be either a shadow or a splinter group. It has owned similar spectacular raids in the past.

It had claimed responsibility for the September 2013 attack on an Army camp in the Jammu region’s Samba district in which 10 persons, including four soldiers and four policemen, had died and 2003 fidayeen attack on an Army camp in the Jammu region’s Akhnoor sector in which seven soldiers were killed. Both attacks had taken place when leaders of India and Pakistan were meeting to discuss the Line of Control.

After the Pakistani government banned the LeT and the JeM, several shadow outfits similar to the Shuhada Brigade had appeared in Kashmir, including Medina Regiment, Al Mansoorian and Al Nasireen.
In the line of fire: When Army braved militants in J&K, Defence Minister attended lit fest in Goa
New Delhi: Newly-appointed Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar drew criticism for attending a literature festival in Goa, while Army and police personnel braved militants in Jammu and Kashmir on Friday.

Kashmir Valley was rocked by four terror attacks by militants from across the border who stormed an Army camp in Uri leaving 11 security personnel including a Lt Colonel dead and killed two civilians in Tral.

A police assistant sub-inspector was injured in the six-hour-long battle that took place in and around an Army base at Mohura, 90 km northwest of Srinagar, and within a 5 km radius of the Line of Control.
In yet another incident, two residents were killed and nine others injured in a grenade explosion in the southern town of Tral, that was blamed on separatist militants by the police. A police station in Shopian town, was also targeted by militants with a hand grenade, but no casualties were reported. Union home minister Rajnath Singh said attacks like the ones at Mohura and Shopian would not be tolerated.
"Our hearts go out to the families of those affected by this deplorable attack," it said. The attacks and gun battles with security forces which in all left 21 people dead also included a top commander of Pakistan-based terror outfit LeT and seven militants. Srinagar and Shopian were the other two places where the militants struck.

Modi, who will be holding a rally in Srinagar city on Monday, condemned the terror attacks as "desperate attempts" to derail the atmosphere of hope created by the increased voter turnout and saluted the soldiers who laid down their lives for the nation.

Uri, Srinagar, Tral and Shopian goes to polls in Jammu and Kashmir state elections, in the third and fourth phase over the next 10 days.

Army Chief Dalbir Singh Suhag is scheduled to visit Srinagar today and pay tributes to soldiers martyred in Friday's militant attack.
US has also strongly condemned the attacks ahead of PM Modi's poll rally, and said it remained firm on its "commitment" to work with India to defeat terrorism in all forms.

The pre-dawn “fidayeen” attack and subsequent firefight occurred near the Army’s 31 Field Ordinance Regiment base at Kandarwan, Mohura, a heavily militarised area close to the LoC. Though it is within 5 km of the de facto border, the distance by road between the two is around 13 km. Army and police sources said the fighting stopped in six and a half hours, but Army reinforcements with the local police’s counter-insurgency Special Operations Group and the CRPF had laid siege to a vast area around the Army camp and a massive search operation was on as reports last came in.
Two Army helicopters were pressed into service for surveillance of the area, reports said.

Army and police sources said the militants, who divided themselves into two groups, attacked the Army camp at 3.10 am, initially with small arms and then also used under-barrel grenade launchers and grenades.

The Army statement said: “During the intense operations, one officer and seven soldiers of the Army, and one ASI and two constables of the J&K Police made the supreme sacrifice. Six AK rifles with 55 magazines, two shotguns, two night vision binoculars, four radio sets, 32 unused grenades, one medical kit and a large quantity of ‘warlike stores’ were recovered from the dead terrorists.”

The slain policemen were identified as ASI Muhammad Akbar Mir, head constable Abdul Majeed Wani and constable Sanjay Kumar. The Army is yet to disclose the names of the soldiers who laid down their lives in the encounter. Army officials said their names could not be disclosed until their families were informed formally.

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