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October 22, 2001
1525 IST

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Attempt to storm IAF base
foiled, 4 militants killed

Mukhtar Ahmed in Srinagar

Sentries guarding the main Indian Air Force base at Quil Pulwama, in the southern Pulwama district, on Monday afternoon foiled an attempt by a four-member suicide squad to storm the complex.

The police said the security guards engaged the group of militants in a fierce gun battle on the main entrance of base, and killed all four.

An employee of the IAF and a driver of another vehicle also died in the gun battle, while three other personnel of the IAF and paramilitary Border Security Force received injuries, and were admitted to a hospital.

A police spokesman in Srinagar said four militants masquerading as cops travelled between Pulwama and Awantipur in a Santro car.

As soon as the car reached the main entrance of the IAF base, the militants got down and hurled grenades and opened heavy fire from automatic rifles on the sentries manning the entrance.

Sources said the guards of the army and the BSF immediately took positions, as the militants made attempts to storm the complex.

The guards engaged the militants in a fierce gun battle, which continued for nearly one hour.

Messages were immediately flashed and army troops from the nearby camp also rushed to the spot. The security guards, the police said, gunned down all the four militants.

"It was a fierce gun battle. The militants made several attempts to storm the base, but could not in view of the tight security on the main gate," an IAF officer said.

Journalists saw a damaged bunker on the main gate and bullet marks all around.

Immediately after the attack, Lashkar-e-Tayiba phoned journalists to admit responsibility for the attack.

A spokesman for the outfit claimed several members of the security forces were killed in the attack.

The police identified two militants as Abu Umar and Mohammad Zakaria. The remaining two militants are yet to be identified.

Senior officers of the army who visited the base ordered massive combing operations in the area around the base.

They ordered further beef up of the security around the base.

Meanwhile, 200 houses and government buildings were destroyed in a devastating fire at village Burli Gurez in the northern Baramulla district on Sunday night.

Sources said 30 persons received injuries in the blaze and were provided treatment at the local hospital.

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