Militants strike JK ahead of PM's visit

Militants strike JK ahead of PM's visit

Eight Army personnel killed, 3 battling for life in Srinagar

Militants strike JK ahead of PM's visit

 In a daring attack, militants on Monday ambushed an Army convoy on the outskirts of Srinagar city, killing at least eight Army personnel and injuring more than a dozen.

Minutes later, the militants attacked a CRPF camp at Barzulla, barely one and a half kilometres from the site of the first attack and injured two security personnel.

Army sources said five soldiers were killed on the spot while three succumbed to wounds at the Army’s 92-Base hospital in Srinagar. Three other soldiers were seriously injured and battling for life, the sources said.

The attack, the second in 48 hours in Srinagar, comes barely a day before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s two-day visit to Kashmir on Tuesday. Sources told Deccan Herald that two or three militants opened fire on the Army convoy near Hyderpora bypass on the Srinagar-Baramulla highway at 4:30 pm.

After fleeing Hyderpora on a motorcycle, the militants were intercepted by a police naka party near the Barzulla bridge uptown. However, the militants opened fire on the police and escaped in a Santro car with tinted glasses, leaving the motorcycle behind, sources said.

Inspector General of Police Abdul Ghani Mir confirmed that the militants managed to flee. “We have intensified searches to locate them,” the IGP said.

A police spokesperson said two terrorists ambushed the Army vehicles and resorted to firing. “They also lobbed a grenade at the vehicle. The terrorists fled the spot on a motorcycle towards Barzalla. They were intercepted at Barzalla and a brief exchange of fire took place in which one CRPF personnel, one police personnel and a woman were injured. Terrorists again managed to flee, leaving behind the motorcycle, which has been seized. The area has been cordoned off,”

Militant outfit Hizb-ul-Mujahideen has claimed responsibility for the attacks. Baliguddin, identifying himself as the spokesperson of the outfit, called up a local news agency and warned that Hizb has formed several squads. Similar attacks will be carried out in the city in the future, he added.

A senior police officer termed the attack “a major security lapse” since it was executed when the state was put on high alert ahead of the prime minister’s visit, his first since June 2010.

“Since last several days security agencies had received inputs that militants might strike in a big way to create news ahead of the prime minister’s visit. However, despite all the checking in the last few days, the militants were successful,” he told Deccan Herald.

Monday’s attack came just two days after Hizbul militants shot dead two policemen in the heart of Srinagar city.

Meanwhile, an unattended bag outside the Chinar Corps headquarters in Sonawar area here led to a bomb scare, resulting in a massive traffic jam on the Srinagar-Jammu Highway.The bag was found near the main gate of the Corps headquarters on Monday morning by soldiers, officials said.

“The sleuths of the bomb disposal squad were called to check the bag, which was later found to be containing clothes,” they added. Jammu and Kashmir CM Omar Abdullah condemned the killing of the Army men, describing it as an act of barbarism and cowardice.