Security forces on Friday foiled a suicide attack here by the banned Jaish-e-Mohammed, eliminating two suspected Pakistani terrorists in an encounter after they fired on a CISF bus and killed an officer.
The incident took place just two days ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Jammu and Kashmir.
According to the officials, nine security personnel were injured in the gunfight near an Army camp in Sunjwan area on the outskirts of Jammu.
The incident led to a red alert being sounded across the region in view of the PM's scheduled visit to Palli Panchayat of Samba district on Sunday.
Director General of Police Dilbag Singh, who visited the encounter site, said the two terrorists were part of a suicide squad of Pakistan-based JeM and their infiltration could be a "big conspiracy" to sabotage the PM's visit.
A joint team of National Investigation Agency and State Investigation Agency visited the encounter site during the day. They are likely to take over the case for investigation.
According to initial investigation, the two terrorists entered the outskirts of Jammu city Thursday after infiltrating from the international border in R S Pura sector and were staying in a locality close to the Sunjwan Army camp.
"Last night, police and other forces were involved in an operation which culminated... As per reports, the two terrorists were part of JeM's suicide squad, launched from Pakistan and tasked with targeting a camp of the security forces or engaging... to inflict a lot of casualties," the DGP told reporters near the scene of the encounter.
The terrorists were wearing suicide vests and also equipped with a huge quantity of arms and ammunition.
"The encounter took place two days ahead of the prime minister's visit. It is part of a big conspiracy to disturb the peaceful atmosphere of Jammu and it could be a big conspiracy to sabotage the visit," Singh said, adding "it is good that we got timely inputs and the operation was concluded successfully."
The operation began around 4.25 am on Friday when the two terrorists, who were apparently moving towards the Army camp, were spotted by the guards who were changing duties, the officials said.
Around the same time, a CISF bus carrying 15 personnel was proceeding towards the Jammu airport, which is being guarded by the paramilitary force.
Apparently, in a knee-jerk reaction, the two terrorists lobbed a grenade towards the bus and sprayed it with bullets before escaping back into the nearby locality, prompting the security forces to lay a cordon around the area.
A senior Central Industrial Security Force officer said the terrorists fired at the bus and lobbed grenades, killing Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) S P Patel and injuring two other occupants. The force retaliated effectively.
Later in a tweet, the CISF said its personnel were attacked by terrorists while going for an ongoing cordon and search operation.
According to the police, the gunfight began when the terrorists opened fire on the search party.
The officials said nine security personnel, including two policemen, were injured in the gunfight. A CISF personnel and a police personnel sustained grievous injuries.
As the CISF troops retaliated, the terrorists fled and jumped into the compound of a local resident, Mahommad Anwar, they said.
The security forces zeroed in on the house and killed one of the terrorists while he was moving towards the bathroom, where his associate had taken a shelter, they said.
Efforts to neutralise the second terrorist took longer. He was killed in heavy gunfire and grenade hits, they said, adding the entire gunfight lasted a little over five hours.
The officials ruled out the possibility of a third terrorist being present.
On the identity of the slain terrorists, DGP Singh said an investigation is on but prima facie, it looks that the two were Pakistani nationals and had freshly infiltrated into India.
They have no history of terror activities in J&K, he said.
(With PTI Inputs)
The DGP said three weapons along with a lot of grenades were recovered from their possession.
Responding to a question about local support to the terrorists, Singh said, "We have certain leads and we are working on them."
Two AK-47 rifles, an Under Barrel Grenade Launcher and a satellite phone were recovered from the slain terrorists, the police said.
Mobile internet services were suspended and schools in the vicinity of the encounter site were closed for the day as a precautionary measure.
On February 10 in 2018, three JeM terrorists stormed the Sunjwan Army camp and in the subsequent gunfight, seven people, including six soldiers, were killed. All the three terrorists were also gunned down.
The officials said at least five suspected persons were lifted for questioning as a red alert was sounded across Jammu region following the incident.
The security forces have intensified checking of vehicles and area domination in Jammu city and elsewhere including highways, the officials said.
The PM is scheduled to visit Samba's Pali village, 17 km from here, On National Panchayati Raj Day on April 24. He is also scheduled to address a gathering.
This will be Modi's first visit to Jammu and Kashmir, other than borders, since the abrogation of the special status of the erstwhile state and its bifurcation in August 2019.
Meanwhile, the traffic police Jammu has issued an advisory in connection with the PM's visit, announcing certain restrictions and route plans.