CRPF officer killed, two injured in militant attack

Search op on as ultras trapped inside a prestigious school premises

CRPF officer killed, two injured in militant attack
 A paramilitary CRPF officer was killed and two others were injured in an attack by militants on a vehicle they were travelling in at Pantha Chowk, close to Army’s 15-Corps headquarters in Srinagar on Saturday.

Eyewitnesses told DH that two to three militants armed with AK series assault rifles fired on a vehicle carrying men from the Central Reserve Police Forces’s (CRPF) 29 Battalion at Pantha Chowk on Srinagar-Jammu national highway at around 5.50 pm. The place is barely a km away from Army’s 15-Corps headquarters and six km from city centre Lal Chowk.

A CRPF spokesman said, “Three of our men including Sub Inspector Sahab Shukla were injured in the attack. Shukla succumbed to his injuries soon after."

Reports said later a J&K policeman and a CRPF personnel were injured when the former accidentally fired his weapon. The militants after the attack, sources said, ran into the nearby Delhi Public School complex, which has four huge buildings in the compound.

Vijay Kumar Dhar, the pro-vice chairman of the prestigious school, confirmed to media that some gunmen have entered inside the school premises. However, he said, school staff and students were safe as they had already left the campus. 

A police official said the school premises has been cordoned off by the security forces and an operation to flush them out has been launched. "Reinforcements have been sent to the spot to nab the attackers. Two to three militants are hiding in one of the four concrete buildings of the school operation is underway to nab them," he said.

The area is barely one km away from the strategic 15-Corps headquarters. Lashker-e-Toiba (LeT) spokesman Abdullah Ghazanavi in a statement to local news gathering agency GNS claimed responsibility for the attack. The national highway was closed after the attack, reports said.

There has been a spurt in attacks on security forces by militants in Kashmir since the month of Ramzan began as 44 people - soldiers, policemen, civilians and militants - have been killed since May 28. The most brutal of the deaths was the lynching of Dy SP Ayoub Pandith outside the Jamia Masjid in Srinagar on Thursday night.

Today'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 nine occasions on the highway, resulting in nearly 21 casualties to security forces.

In the wake of rising militants 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.

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