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Pampore Encounter: Day Later, Terrorists Hold Out In Govt Building

An encounter with a group of terrorists who are hiding inside a government institute in Pampore, 15 km from Srinagar, has stretched for well over a day. Explosions and gunshots are being heard regularly from within and around the building, used to offer vocational training to young Kashmiris. An army soldier was injured in the initial firing yesterday. The information being shared here is delayed so as not to jeopardize the security forces fighting the terrorists.

Officials said the encounter has stretched on because the building offers a "bunker-like" protection to the terrorists. Seemingly well-stocked in ammunition and supplies, they have demonstrated a willingness to hold out and prolong the operation. There are no hostages, sources said, because classes have been suspended for more than three months because of the unrest in the state that began with the killing of 22-year-old terrorist Burhan Wani.

The terrorists entered the building in saffron-rich Pampore at 6.30 am on Monday. The same institute had been targeted in a major attack in February. Five soldiers and a civilian were killed then; three terrorists were shot dead. Units of the army's Special Forces, paramilitary soldiers and counterinsurgency police encircled the building in the sprawling compound last morning.

Sources said that terrorists who broke into the institute in the morning approached the campus on the outskirts of Srinagar through boats on the River Jhelum, which flows from Kashmir into Pakistan. According to the police, the terrorists then set sections of the Entrepreneurship Development Institute (EDI) hostel building on fire to lure security forces. When they arrived, a major gunbattle broke out. "We are confident of neutralising the terrorists as soon as possible," an army officer supervising the operation said.

Intel agencies have been warning of terror attacks in retaliation for the surgical strikes conducted by India across the Line of Control two weeks ago. Soldiers raided staging areas in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir where terrorists were waiting to cross the border and attack major cities, the army has said.

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