The encounter in Arnia sector of Jammu region close to Indo-Pak border ended on Friday morning after the remaining fourth militant was gunned down by security forces during the terror attack on an army patrol that in all left 12 people dead including five civilians and three army personnel.
"The encounter has ended and boys did a good job by preventing the militants from striking anywhere," Director General of Jammu and Kashmir Police K Rajendra told PTI.
"In all, we have lost three army personnel and five civilians. All the four militants have been killed," he said, after the end of the encounter this morning which lasted over 24 hours following the fidayeen attack.
On Thursday, it was stated that four militants were killed and one more was still holed up in an army bunker which came under attack. Officials said on Friday there was some confusion on establishing the identity of one the dead on Thursday.
The operation to neutralise the militants began on Thursday morning and went on throughout the day but was suspended during the night.
An army official said that security forces, who had launched a cordon and search operation at the site of encounter in Arnia this morning to retrieve bodies of the civilians, came under fire from a militant holed up in a bunker triggering fresh exchanges in which he was killed.
Piecing together the events that led to the attack, sources in the security establishment said all the four terrorists had entered India from across the Indo-Pak border during the intervening night of November 26 and 27 and were hiding behind a culvert when they were spotted by the Territorial Army personnel.
A fierce gunbattle then ensued and the terrorists who were in combat fatigues later entered two abandoned bunkers and remained holed up before three of them were neutralised.
Security officials suspected that the militants wanted to carry out a sensational strike in the winter capital of Jammu and Kashmir to coincide with the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who held a poll rally in Udhampur on Friday. The venue of the rally was about 100 km from Arnia.
On November 26, Pakistani rangers had fired on some posts in the Arnia sector and by the time the troops could retaliate, the four militants are believed to have infiltrated into the state, official sources said. The Border Security Force, which guards the International Border, maintains there was no sign of infiltration.
The five civilians who died also included two people who had tried to flee from the car, in which they were travelling, when it got caught in the cross-fire between militants and security personnel.
Inspector General of Police Jammu, Rajesh Kumar told mediapersons that search operations are on in the Arnia sector. Kumar said that once the operations are called off, final details of casualties can be given. During the evacuation operation in the morning, bodies of four civilians were taken out. However, the BSF have ruled out any infiltration from International Border in Arnia belt.
On November 28, the stadium at military station, Mamun near Pathankot City of Punjab stood in testimony when the military fraternity gathered with a sense of honour to pay homage to the three of its gallant soldiers, who laid down their lives while fighting the terrorists The mortal remains of Naik Kulwinder Singh, resident of Jalandhar district of Punjab, Naik Jagsir Singh, resident of Mansa district of Punjab, both from 5th Battalion, the Sikh Light Infantry (OP HILL) and Paratrooper Balwinder Singh resident of Dhar Kalan district of Punjab, of 1 PARA (Special Forces), were laid in state and a solemn wreath laying ceremony was performed with full military honours.
A wreath was laid on behalf of Gen Dalbir Singh, chief of the army staff. Lt Gen K J Singh, General Officer Commanding in Chief, Western Command, laid a wreath on behalf of all ranks of Western Command. Also, present at the ceremony were Lt Gen Rajeev Tewari, General Officer Commanding 9 Corps and other officers, junior commissioned officers and Jawans of all units of the military station.
Image: Army jawans during an encounter with militants at Pindi village of Arnia sector. Photograph: PTI Photo