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Army seeks security blank cheque

Jammu, April 25: The army wants complete control of all security affairs in Jammu and Kashmir, including the Unified Command, to fight terrorism.

The issue was raised by representatives of the army, including the director-general of military operations and the commander of 16 Corps, at a security meet of the Union home ministry, army, intelligence agencies and the state government here yesterday, sources said.

The army argued that there should be a single command for the security affairs of the state, which is facing increased threats of militancy from across the border. It maintained that as it has the largest presence in the state and also on the borders, it should control operations against terrorists in the state.

The army pointed out that it had turned around the situation in the state, after it was given charge of anti-terrorist operations in 1993.

Currently, the army, the Border Security Force, the Central Reserve Police Force, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police and Jammu and Kashmir police conduct their own operations and there is no system for pooling information or resources.

The army urged that the Unified Command, which now operates under the chairmanship of the chief minister, should be controlled by it. All operations should be coordinated by army commanders because of their knowledge of the field, it said.

Militants strike

Militants today launched a string of attacks — including this year’s first suicide strike — across the Valley, killing several people, authorities said.

The attacks, which killed four soldiers and two People’s Democratic Party activists, came as India and Pakistan toned down their rhetoric over Kashmir after Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee last week urged for talks to end 13 years of bloodshed in the Valley, say reports from Srinagar.

At least three suspected militants launched a suicide attack on a BSF camp in Bandipore in Baramullah district, killing two soldiers and a civilian, a BSF spokesman said.

“They started firing randomly and we retaliated. Two of the three militants were killed, while the third managed to escape,” the spokesman added.

One of the militants had strapped explosives to his body and blew himself up, killing the civilian near the gate of the security camp, the spokesman said.

Police said the fidayeen stormed the BSF camp, hurling grenades and spraying bullets from automatic weapons. Soldiers took position inside the headquarters and engaged the militants in a gunbattle. Three BSF paramilitary personnel were injured in the attack, he added.

A lesser-known militant organisation, the al Madina Regiment, has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Hours after the suicide attack, three persons were killed and 33 wounded when a bomb exploded in a crowded lawn outside the local court in Pattan near Srinagar, the police said.

In another strike, an army officer and two soldiers were killed and three critically wounded when militants ambushed an army patrol in Bandipore’s neighbouring Shimlar village late last night, the police said.

Militants last night dragged out Abdul Gani Malik, block president of the ruling PDP, and his relative Abdul Ahad from their homes at Waripora in Baramullah district and killed them.

Another PDP activist, Javed Ahmad, was today gunned down at Drangbal in Pampore town.

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