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Ahead of PM’s visit, militants storm Valley

Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rally in Kashmir, the Valley was on Friday rocked by four terrorist attacks. In Uri, terrorists stormed an army camp, leaving 11 security personnel, including a Lt Colonel, dead. Two civilians were killed in Tral.

During the day, terrorists also struck Srinagar and Shopian.

The attacks and gun battles with security forces claimed 21 lives in all, including those of eight militants.

The attacks come three days after the state recorded 72 per cent voter turnout in the second phase of Assembly polls. Uri, Srinagar, Tral and Shopian go to the polls in the third and fourth phases, through the next 10 days.

Modi, set to hold a rally here on Monday, condemned the attacks as “desperate attempts” to derail the atmosphere of hope created by the increased voter turnout. He condoled the soldiers who laid down their lives.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the militants had crossed into the state from across the border with Pakistan.

Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said the attacks were a “desperate attempt” to disrupt peace and normalcy.

Friday morning, people in Uri, 100 km from here, woke up to a raging gunfight between militants and army personnel, with a group of six terrorists targeting an artillery camp located 20 km from the Line of Control, sources said. Four army personnel, injured in the gun fight, could not come out of the barracks and were charred to death, they added.

Following urgent messages being relayed to the local police and the Punjab Regiment nearby, a quick reaction team rushed to the spot. However, it was caught in cross-fire, owing to which Lt Col Sankalp Kumar of the Punjab Regiment, as well as three other soldiers, were killed.

An assistant sub-inspector of the Jammu & Kashmir police, along with two constables, was also gunned down by the militants.

Six AK rifles, 55 magazines, two shotguns, two night-vision binoculars, four radio sets, 32 unused grenades, a medical kit and maps of the region were recovered from the terrorists shot dead in Uri, sources said.

In Tral, militants hurled a grenade at a crowded bus stand, resulting in the death of two. In yet another attack, militants hurled a grenade in Shopian in south Kashmir, though there were no reports of any casualty.

In Soura, on the outskirts of this city, Lashkar-e-Taiba commander Qari Israr, along with an accomplice, was killed by security personnel as he was trying to enter the city, police said.

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