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Militants attack CRPF camp near Dal Lake

By Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar
September 12, 2004 01:33 IST
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Security forces surrounded a battalion headquarters of the paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force in the heart of Srinagar late on Saturday after some militants fought their way into the complex.

"Two or three militants have gone inside the camp," a CRPF officer told on telephone. "We have surrounded the complex. Some CRPF men are injured. We are trying to evacuate them."

The city reverberated with the sound of gunfire as the forces engaged the militants in battle. Reports said the militants entered the battalion headquarters hurling grenades and firing from their assault weapons.

Just hours after the security forces had settled down from a day of high alert on the anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, the Civil Lines area was jolted by the sound of explosions and gunfire.

Most of the hotels occupied by middle- and higher-income group tourists are located in this area on the banks of the Dal Lake. Late on July 27, two militants had stormed a paramilitary camp on an isle within the lake, resulting in the deaths of five CRPF troopers. The two militants were eventually shot down after a nightlong gunbattle.

Intermittent firing continued through Saturday night. The authorities have rushed additional police forces to the area. Jammu and Kashmir Director General of Police Gopal Sharma and senior police and paramilitary force officers visited the spot.

Sources claimed that one militant had already been gunned down. They said four CRPF troopers, including an officer, who were injured in the initial gunbattle were taken to hospital.

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Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar