Two troopers killed, four injured as militant ambush convoy on Kashmir highway

Two troopers killed, four injured as militant ambush convoy on Kashmir highway

Two soldiers were killed while four others were injured after militants ambushed an army convoy on Srinagar-Jammu national highway in south Kashmir's Kulgam district on Saturday.

Sources said that the militants, believed to be three to four in number, ambushed the convoy coming from Jammu and opened fire on moving army vehicles near Lower Munda, Qazigund, 90 km from here, resulting into injuries to six troopers.

The injured were evacuated to Army's 92 base hospital in Srinagar where two troopers succumbed to their injuries. The militants after firing on the Army convoy fled away from the spot, sources said and added a massive search operation was launched in the area to nab the attackers.

Reports said traffic on the busy national highway came to halt immediately after one of the deadliest attacks in recent months and tension gripped the nearby Qazigund town. A senior police officer wishing anonymity termed the attack as a ‘major security lapse’ as it came amid a high state of alert which had been sounded by intelligence agencies that militants might increase the attacks on the highway ahead of annual Amarnath yatra beginning on June 29.

Indigenous Hizb-ul-Mujahideen militant outfit claimed the responsibility for the attack. In a tele-statement to local news gathering agency KNS, the Hizb operational spokesman, Burhan-ud-din warned of more such attacks in future.

Saturday's attack was not an isolated incident on the national highway, but only a reminder of deadly attacks of past inflicting many casualties on security forces. In the past year, militants have targeted forces on more than eight occasions on the highway, resulting in nearly 20 casualties to security forces.

On June 25 last year, four heavily armed Lashkar-e-Toiba militants suddenly appeared on the highway near Pampore town and mounted a fiadyeen attacked in which eight paramilitary troopers died and nearly two dozen were badly wounded. Similarly,on December 17, three Army men were killed after militants attacked their convoy on the highway near Kadlabal.

In the wake of rising terror attacks on security forces' convoys on the highway, the security agencies had last year decided to install CCTV cameras and deploy additional forces on the highway to prevent the attacks.

However, a senior police officer told DH that despite rising attacks since December 2015, there has been little increase in deployment of forces on the highway that connects Valley with rest of the country and is used to carry supplies to the Srinagar-based 15 Corps.

The revival of militancy, and especially home grown terror, is making security agencies nervous, locals fearful, separatists excited and early morning headlines ominously gloomy.

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