Militants cross border to strike Samba Army camp, police station

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Three heavily armed terrorists attacked a police station and an Army camp in the border districts of Kathua and Samba in Jammu and Kashmir Thursday morning, killing 10 people, including four policemen and a lieutenant colonel of the Army.

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said the attack was an attempt to derail the talks between Prime Ministers Manmohan Singh and Nawaz Sharif scheduled in New York on Sunday.

The terrorists, who were dressed in Army fatigues and were carrying automatic rifles and grenades, stormed Hiranagar police station around 6.45 am, killing four policemen and two civilians. Within the next hour, they had fought their way into an Army camp 22 km away in adjoining Samba district, where they killed four Army personnel including Lt Col Bikramjit Singh, second in command of the16 Cavalry unit.

All three terrorists were killed after a protracted gunbattle at the camp. Sources said that a special Army unit, 9 Para Commandos, was called in for the final battle.

An outfit calling itself the "Shohada Brigade" claimed responsibility for the attack. But security forces believe the Lashkar-e-Toiba was behind it.

Speaking to reporters in Srinagar before leaving for Jammu, Omar said, "From the timing of these attacks and our history and location of the attack, it is clear that its aim is to derail the dialogue between the Indian Prime Minister and his Pakistani counterpart in New York."

He said, "They have always tried to derail any peace process that is sought to be initiated and have wished to keep the turmoil in the state going on... I condemn this attack and express my condolences with the families of those... who have lost their lives."

Defence spokesman S N Acharya said the Commanding Officer of the unit, Col Avin Uthaiya, took bullets in the chest and stomach, but has undergone surgery and is now stable in hospital.

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