Fighters storm Kashmir army camp, leaving 2 Indian troops killed

At least 20 Indian officers and soldiers have been killed on attacks in occupied Kashmir insurgency in the last few days.

At least two soldiers and two militants have been killed and several people have been wounded in a fierce gun battle as fighters stormed an army base in Jammu city of Indian-administered Kashmir, according to local officials.

The attack on Sunjuwan army camp took place in the early hours of Saturday and was still ongoing many hours later, SD Singh Jamwal, local police chief, told Al Jazeera.

Officials said an unknown number of attackers is cornered inside the residential complex of the camp, where they are locked in a fierce standoff that came a day after the death anniversary of a prominent regional separatist leader Mohammad Afzal Guru, which was celebrated on Friday.

Hundreds of police, army and paramilitary soldiers were called in to dislodge the fighters, who have barricaded themselves inside multi-storey buildings.

The vast army installation located in the city of Jammu is located close to several shopping centers and schools.

An official from the civil administration told Aljazeera the nearby schools had been closed as a precautionary measure and security was beefed up across the area.

“The situation continues to be tense. The attack has taken place in the main city. The exchange of fire is still on,” the official said.

Earlier, the army said in a statement that one junior commissioner officer had been killed in the gun battle during “operations to evacuate families”.

“Six persons including three women and children have suffered injuries,” the army said, adding, that due to the presence of women and children in the housing colony, “the operations are being progressed cautiously to minimize the causalities”.

Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh said he was closely monitoring the situation.

Meanwhile, an Indian lawmaker raised pro-Pakistan slogans in the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly on Saturday after his counterparts from the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) allegedly chanted anti-Pakistan slogans in the wake of the attack.

The attackers are suspected to be affiliated with Jaish-e-Mohammad which has launched similar raids in recent years against the army and paramilitary installations across the region, Indian media outlets claimed.

Akbar Lone, a National Conference lawmaker from Sonawari, later accepted that he had raised the pro-Pakistan slogans in the assembly because he had been “provoked” by the slogans raised by BJP lawmakers, the Times of India reported.

“Yes, I said it. It is my personal view, I said it in the house and I don’t think anyone should have a problem with it,” Lone was quoted as saying by ANI.

Reports suggested that lawmakers associated with the BJP were raising slogans against Pakistan, accusing it of involvement in the attack.

Jammu is the main city in the southern part of the disputed state, claimed by both India and Pakistan in full. The archrivals control parts of the Muslim-majority Himalayan region.

Cross-border firing in violation of a 2003 ceasefire agreement has gone up in the past months leading to causalities, with more than a dozen people killed on the Indian side since the beginning of this year– at least 20 Indian officers and soldiers have been killed on attacks in occupied Kashmir insurgency in the last few days.

The two nuclear-armed neighbors have been at loggerheads since an attack on an army camp in Kashmir’s Uri left 18 Indian soldiers dead in 2016.

New Delhi regularly accuses Islamabad of aiding fighters in crossing the de factor border (Line of Control) to attack targets inside India.

Pakistan denies the allegations and stresses that it only lends moral and diplomatic support to Kashmiris.

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