Kashmir: Indian troops surround militants in government buildings

Two Indian army captains were killed on the second day of the stand-off, which began when militants ambushed a police convoy before taking refuge in a government-run training institute.
By Fred Lambert  |  Feb. 21, 2016 at 3:25 PM
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PAMPORE, India, Feb. 21 (UPI) -- Indian army troops have encircled militants in a government-run training institute south of the capital of Indian-administered Kashmir.

The siege began Saturday when at least four gunmen ambushed a paramilitary police convoy before taking refuge in the Entrepreneurship Development Institute, a sprawling complex of three multi-story buildings offering clear views of open terrain surrounding the area.

The institute is located in the city of Pampore, in the Pulwama district, about 14 miles south of Srinagar.

At least two paramilitary police officers were killed and nine injured during the convoy ambush, and two army officers -- Capt. Pawan Kumar, 23, and Capt. Tushar Mahajan, 26 -- were killed during an early Sunday attack on militant positions in the facility.

A third soldier, Lance Cpl. Naik Om Prakash, 32, was also killed in the Sunday fighting. One militant has reportedly been killed.

Witnesses say part of the institute was ablaze Sunday, and firing could be heard into the afternoon.

At least one civilian was also killed in the encounter, and another 100 were removed to safety when security forces evacuated the institute as the militants stormed in and reportedly allowed civilians to leave.

Indian army officials said the stand-off may be lengthy, as the militants appeared to be heavily armed, and the open approaches to the facility give an advantage to the defenders. In addition, police say, a canteen in the institute is stocked with supplies that can last days.

The BBC quoted authorities describing the gunmen as "suspected anti-India rebels."

India's northwestern Kashmir and Jammu region is shared in administration with Pakistan, though both nations claim it in full and have fought multiple conflicts for control of the territory, which is also home to Islamist militant groups.

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