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Worst-ever militant attack on army in Kashmir

J&K army atrocities: a  woman consoling neighbour whose house gutted in Magam in an encounter between army and militants

Heavily armed secessionist militants stormed an Indian army camp and attacked a bus on the outskirts of Jammu city 14 May morning killing at least 34 people, including 22 army personnel and their family members, in one of the deadliest attacks in the 13 years of militancy in Jammu and Kashmir. At least 49 are injured and include a number of armymen some of whom are said to be in serious condition. The injured include women and children.

The three-member suicide squad of militants, who carried out the attacks, were later shot dead in a three-hour operation by army commandos in the camp located at Kaluchak, 10 km from Jammu city, official sources said. The passenger bus had been travelling to Jammu from Himachal Pradesh.

Among the dead in the attack on the residential quarters of armymen were 10 children, eight women and five men, official sources said, adding that the militants, dressed in Indian army combat uniform, also shot dead seven passengers of a Jammu-bound bus of Himachal Roadways before storming the military base. 

Two unknown outfits, Al-Mansooran and Jamiatul Mujahideen, have claimed responsibility for the attack that coincided with the presence of the US Assistant Secretary of State Christina Rocca in New Delhi. She condemned the strike as "barbaric" and said "it is this type of barbaric terrorism that the international war on terrorism is determined to stop." 

Most of the casualties in the residential quarters were of children aged between four and ten, Major General Mohan Pandey, general-officer-commanding of 16 Corps, told reporters after visiting the site of the incident. He said the toll could rise as many of the injured were in critical condition.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister told the Star News TV channel that the toll could go over 50. ''The real tally may be more than that,'' he said. 

Police and the army had cordoned off the area. The vehicular traffic has been suspended on the Jammu-Pathankot highway since this morning. 

A commentator in Delhi said that this attack is a strong enough signal from the militants that "cross-border terrorism" has not de-escalated as India has been demanding Pakistan, and that President Musharraf himself cannot check militancy anymore. 

The Indian army, on the other hand, claimed that the current deployment along the borders with Pakistan will not affect the counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir, where situation is improving, a senior army officer said Tuesday.

Only 55 militants have infiltrated into Kashmir valley via Pir Panjal range during the first four months of the current year, Lt Gen VG Patankar, general officer commanding, 15th Corp, told reporters in Srinagar, Kashmir's summer capital.

He said 357 militants were killed and 387 arrested in counter-terrorism operations in the Valley of Kashmir between January to April this year. Forty militants surrendered during the period, he added.

Stating that Kashmiris have suffered during the past 12 years, Patankar said that future counter-terrorism operations of security forces will be people-friendly.

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