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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

NIA suspects insider’s involvement in Uri fidayeen attack

Army tightlipped on media reports about ‘killing of 10 militants’; cross-LoC firing in Uri; soldier killed in Nowgam

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz


 SRINAGAR, Sep 20: National Investigation Agency (NIA), that has begun a probe into Sunday’s fidayeen attack in Uri, in which 18 soldiers died and around 20 sustained injuries, is suspecting the hand of an “insider” in facilitating the militants’ entry into the Brigade headquarters and guiding them to the garrison's  most vulnerable place.

Contrary to Army’s official versions, NIA has observed that it was not a “tent” but three regular barracks full of arms, ammunition, logistics and transit personnel that had been locked from outside and set on fire by the militants. According to sources familiar with the investigation, three adjoining barracks perished in the devastating fire, denying many of the inmates a chance to escape. Those who did were gunned down.

Hours after the inferno subsided, Army’s bulldozers have flattened the three barracks.

NIA has collected samples of a particular kind of gun powder that is believed to have been sprinkled by the militants on the barracks before setting them on fire with their lighters. The samples, sources said, have been sent to a laboratory for chemical and ballistic analysis. Horrible pictures of the slain soldiers in possession of STATE TIMES make it clear that most of the fatal casualties occurred due to severe burning.

Of the 18 soldiers killed, as many as 13 bodies are completely or partly charred. Doctors treating the injured at Army’s 92 Base Hospital said that 14 of them have burn injuries. Even as one soldier, who had been flown to Army’s Referral and Research Hospital New Delhi, has succumbed to injuries, others are responding to treatment. In the next couple of days, it could be clear how many of the dead and injured had sustained gunshot wounds or injuries from the militants’ grenades.

NIA sleuths have noticed that the intruders had sneaked into the garrison with a possible support from inside and proceeded straight to the barracks where the troops of the incoming 6-Bihar regiment and the outgoing 10-Dogra had been lodged. On Saturday, the Brigade commander had briefed them about their duties and the replacement. This timing is said to be the “most crucial” at an army camp as during the transit procedure a terrorist strike becomes easy.

In total contrariness to the Army claim that the fidayeen lobbed 17 grenades in the first three minutes, NIA sleuths are said to have noticed that the intruders had silently set on fire the arms and ammunition store (kout) containing landmines, grenades and other explosive material. A large quantity of kerosene oil was also dumped at a barrack. An oil tanker containing diesel was also parked beside a barrack. It has also perished in the fire, leading to multiple fatal casualties.

Sources said that most of the soldiers, who included four chefs and a painter, have been charred to death or have died due to asphyxiation. Some of them have also been hit by splinters flinging out of the ammunition depot.

“This can’t be possible without a thorough recce and inside guidance. How does an outsider, completely stranger to the location, know about the most vulnerable spot at a camp?” said an official familiar with the investigation. He said that call details and other technological coordinates were being analysed to find if an insider had guided the militants.

Agencies claim 10 militants killed in Uri

Meanwhile, PTI and IANS on Tuesday reported that 10 infiltrating militants were killed in an encounter with security forces in Lachhipora forward area of Uri, close to LoC. Both the agencies reported it on purported disclosure of anonymous sources. Army spokespersons in Jammu and Kashmir and New Delhi did not react to these reports and they remained tightlipped even as these were carried by almost all the newspapers and television news channels. Some channels reported that Army had, for the first time in the last two decades, intercepted a thick group of “15 to 18 infiltrators” and 8 to 10 of them had been killed.

However, well-placed official sources insisted to STATE TIMES that there was neither an encounter with the militants nor had any militant died in any encounter in Uri on Tuesday. They said that Pakistani and Indian troops traded mortar and small arms fire over Ghode Taal on LoC which apparently did not cause any damage.

“Army has neither spotted nor recovered any militant's body. Things will become clear tomorrow”, said an official. He confirmed that one soldier of Indian army got killed in an encounter with the infiltrating militants in Nowgar sector of Handwara, close to LoC, in Kupwara district.


[Published in today’s STATE TIMES]