Pardeep Singh Dardi
Three policemen were shot dead at point-blank range on Monday in summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, in the first such attacks in almost three years, a senior police officer said.
The attacks followed a weekend shootout in north Kashmir in which five militants and one Indian soldier were killed, taking to 44 the total number of separatist fighters killed this year in India’s most northerly region. The spike in violence comes against a backdrop of rising social tension and separatist sentiment in the Muslim-majority region, which for decades has been at the center of a strategic tussle between India and Pakistan.
The three policemen were killed in two separate attacks in Srinagar, police official said, with two killed in the Zadibal quarter of the city. The militants fired at these cops from point-blank range, leaving them in a pool of blood,” said officer.
The assailants in the second attack shot dead the security guard of a political leader, also at point-blank range, and took his rifle. The attacks came two days after five militants from Pakistan-backed militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba were killed in Kupwara district bordering Pakistan. One soldier succumbed to wounds suffered in the gun battle.
The number of militants sneaking across the de facto border between India and Pakistan has increased this year, helped by an early summer and a lack of winter snows in the mountainous region, a senior army officer said. Extremists shot the two cops from close range at the Mill Stop in Zadibal area that connects the city to the Hazratbal Shrine and a hospital in Soura, a police official said.
The two cops died on the spot, he said, adding the deceased have been identified as Assistant Sub Inspector Ghulam Mohammad and Head Constable Nazir Ahmad. Hours later, a policeman was killed in a strike in the city’s Tengpora area. The militants snatched the personnel’s rifle. Police said they launched a manhunt for the killers, who managed to flee the spot.
Meanwhile, Srinagar was on high alert after unidentified gunmen killed three policemen. Security personnel put up barricades to check vehicles at many places and frisked pedestrians at all strategic spots in the city. Sources say attackers, who are on the run, were on a motorcycle. A massive search operation has been launched in the city. Militant outfit Hizbul Mujahideen claimed the responsibility for the incidents and its spokesperson Burhanuddin told a local news agency that attacks on the security establishments will continue.
Security forces cordoned off the site where militants strike in Srinagar on Monday