Militants hurling grenades stormed an army camp in Indian held Kashmir on Friday, killing 11 troops and police in a day of violence in held Jammu and Kashmir where local elections are being held. Six of the attackers also died in the audacious raid on the barracks in occupied Uri, near the heavily militarised Line of Control (LoC). It was the highest number of security officers killed in a single day in the state since June 2013, and came on a day of violence across held Kashmir.
Two militants died in a gun battle in the residential outskirts of occupied Srinagar. In Tral, south of occupied Srinagar, a grenade lobbed at an election campaign vehicle missed its target and killed an elderly bystander at a bus stop, injuring six others. The violence comes ahead of a campaign visit Monday by India’s new right-wing Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is making a bid for power in held Kashmir.
Modi will address a campaign rally for the BJP, which is staging a bold attempt to seize control of the occupied Jammu and Kashmir legislature – a move unthinkable until very recently. The Hindu nationalist party has traditionally had no base in the held Kashmir Valley, where local resentment against Indian rule runs high.
HIGH TURNOUT Modi tweeted that the attacks were “desperate attempts to derail the atmosphere of hope and goodwill as seen by increased voter turnout”. The defence ministry said the “heavily armed and well equipped” militants stormed the barracks in the early hours of Friday, triggering a gun battle that lasted for over six hours.
Police said the militants entered the high-walled Uri camp, throwing grenades and firing automatic weapons. By mid-afternoon, shooting had ceased and security forces were “defusing unexploded grenades”, a police officer told AFP on condition of anonymity. The strongly fortified army camp, home to several hundred soldiers, lies 100 kilometres (60 miles) north-west of occupied Srinagar.
Thousands of extra paramilitary troops have been deployed in held Kashmir to protect voters from attacks by militants, who have called on residents to boycott the state elections. Most leaders were either arrested or confined to their houses after the elections were announced.