Jalalabad (Jammu), Apr 22 (PTI) “We thought we would never see each other again,” said Zulfikar Ali as he recounted the hours that followed after a fierce gunbattle broke out between terrorists and security forces here early Friday.
There was heavy firing and grenade explosions, and little chance of getting out alive, said the 34-year-old, who hid in a corner of his house along with his family as bullets and splinters hit walls and vehicles outside.
It was amid this terrifying situation that a team of the army entered the house and under heavy protection started rescuing every member, he said.
“The team took us to a safe place and we are alive today,” said Ali, claiming that the gunbattle broke out in the densely populated Jalalabad area sometime after 4 am.
According to officials, the gunbattle, in which two terrorists — part of a suicide squad from Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed — were killed, lasted about six hours with sanitisation operations still on in the area.
“A loud explosion in the compound of the house woke us up. This was followed by the deafening noise of firing of automatic rifles and more explosions,” said Ali.
Masarat Hussain, another resident, said, “We had woken up for sahar (morning meals during Roza in the month of Ramzan) when firing and blasts rattle us.” Doors and windows were closed, and the sound outside was terrifying, he recalled.
Ali said that after being woken up by the grenade blast, he immediately called the local police station house officer for help and rescue.
They responded in time, he said and showed his house’s compound walls which were riddled with bullets.
“We have never seen this happening. We do not want to see this again I am thankful to the army from the core of my heart. They brought us out of the house,” Ali said.
The terrorists entered the Jalalabad locality after lobbing a grenade and firing at a bus carrying 15 CISF personnel around 4.25 am near the Chaddha camp area, killing an assistant sub-inspector and injuring two others Security forces zeroed in on the house in which the terrorists hid and forced them into an abandoned bathroom, officials said, adding that they were neutralised with heavy fire and grenade hits.
Meanwhile, the abandoned bathroom where the final assault took place was in the backyard of a house belonging to Anwar Hussain who said that the security forces evacuated them to safety before neutralising the militants.
“We did not know that the terrorists had entered our backyard as it usually remains locked. We were informed about it by the army,” Anwar Hussain told reporters here.
Anwar, who was not at home when the encounter broke out, said the terrorists had gained access to their backyard after jumping from the rooftop of an adjacent building.
“The sound of explosions woke us up. As my husband was not at home, I called him and he told me to stay quiet and not get up for sahar,” Anwar’s wife said.
My daughters and I were terrorised by the gunbattle and sound of explosions, she said, adding that the army evacuated them around 6 am.
“It was then that we realised that the terrorists were hiding in our backyard,” she said. PTI AB ANB RHL
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