The daughter of Lt Col Bikramjeet Singh, who was killed in the militant attack in Samba, at his funeral in Chandigarh on Friday. (PTI)
Srinagar, Sept. 27: The three militants who struck in Jammu had a free run for over 30km from the International Border to the Samba army camp because of major lapses by security forces.
Official sources said the militants in combat fatigues faced little or no resistance while storming a police station at Hiranagar and the army camp at Samba but, more important, went unnoticed as they moved through the border districts of Kathua and Samba.
They were killed in a nine-hour gunbattle at Samba but not before killing a lieutenant colonel, three soldiers, four cops and two civilians and injuring several others.
Chief minister Omar Abdullah, who is camping in Jammu, reviewed the functioning of the security grid at a high-level meeting today.
“The chief minister was apprised of the details of operations conducted to combat the terrorists. He was also briefed about the functioning of the security grid and the co-ordination between various security agencies to anticipate and combat terrorist attacks,” an official spokesperson said.
The militants are believed to have crossed over from Pakistan near the BSF’s Paharpur border post at night, taking cover of the darkness and the thick vegetation.
“The BSF patrols are a routine in the area but they did not detect any movement,” a police officer said.
The militants reached Hariyachek, 5km away, and boarded an auto. “The driver initially thought they were CRPF men as they were wearing combat dresses. He became suspicious because of their conversation and after they ordered him to take them to some security installation,” an official said.
The driver was shot at and injured when they reached Hiranagar police station, 10km from the International Border, at 6.45am.
The police offered no resistance as the militants forced their way inside, killing the sentry outside and three officers inside and injuring three cops.
An official said some 20 officers were present in the police station and the adjoining residential quarters but none fired a single bullet. “They were mostly asleep or had just woken up. One officer hid inside a bathroom, others underneath their beds,” the official said.
“Then they took time to relay the message to the police control room (PCR), giving the militants time to cover another 22km up to Samba (including 20km on the national highway).” The attack on the police station lasted around 15 minutes. “The PCR got the message about the attack around 7.15am. The militants reached Samba in less than an hour and nobody detected their movement,” the official said.
At the army camp, they faced little resistance as they lobbed grenades and opened fire while storming in.
The police said a large quantity of arms and ammunition had been found in the militants’ possession, in addition to dirt-filled shoes and vitamin boxes.
The officials said one reason for the security lapse could be absence of any fidayeen attack in Jammu in the last five years. The last one was in Chinore in August 2008 in which 10 persons died.