Samba attack: Armoured unit used 5 tanks, CO tried to run over terrorist
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The panicked unit, hit by the loss of a senior officer, moved in five of its main battle tanks around the mess area to flush out the terrorists. The commanding officer himself was in one of these tanks, which are ill equipped to deal with individual gunmen.
An account by an unnamed officer of the unit, which is seen as a fairly accurate version of events, says that commanding officer Col Avin Uthaiya was first hit by a terrorist when he approached the mess area on foot, prompting him to get into a tank.
The account says the officer even tried to run over a militant, who had come out in the open from a building, with his tank. The CO was shot in the chest while sitting in the main battle tank, when a second militant who was on the first floor of the building sprayed automatic fire, and had to be evacuated.
Angered by the casualties it had suffered, the unit attempted to target the militants on the first floor of the building with high explosive tank rounds. At least two such rounds were fired into the building the terrorists were hiding in but could not inflict damage on them.
The firing stopped only after a quick reaction team of the 2 Sikh posted in Samba reached the spot and took control. The 2 Sikh team is believed to have been heading for the Hiranagar police station that had first been attacked by the militants after receiving a SOS call but diverted to 16 Cavalry.
In the end, the three terrorists were neutralised in a joint operation by the 2 Sikh team and special troops of the 9 Para Commandos who were called in by the brigade headquarters. A detailed court of inquiry will now bring out the lapses that led to the attack and the heavy casualties on 16 Cavalry but the incident has prompted a review of the security and preparedness of all Army units in the area even up to Pathankot, given the risk of a repeat - terrorists crossing the relatively "easy" international border and inflicting heavy damage on India's war-waging apparatus aimed at Pakistan.
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