Militants change tack, focus more on fidayeen, IED attacks in Kashmir

Militants change tack, focus more on fidayeen, IED attacks in Kashmir

Militants change tack, focus more on fidayeen, IED attacks in Kashmir

After suffering heavy casualties at the hands of security forces last year, militants in Kashmir are focusing on carrying out more fidayeen (suicide) and IED attacks on vital security installations in the state.  

"Taking advantage of civilian unrest in 2016, militants managed to recruit more local boys from south Kashmir and also set up strong network as security forces were not able to carry out any operations for almost six months. However, after elimination of nearly 220 ultras, including top commanders last year, the militant handlers across the border are desperate to boost the morale of their cadres," a senior police officer involved in counter-insurgency operations told DH.

He said of late fidayeen and IED attacks have been the strategies adopted by militant handlers across the border to inflict more causalties on security forces and create news. "Jaish-e-Mohammad terror outfit, which has been assigned the job of carrying out fidayeen and IED attacks, is desperate to set up its networks across Kashmir" the officer said.

In the last two weeks, the Jaish militants carried out one deadly fidayeen attack in southern Pulwama and one IED attack in north Kashmir's Sopore town. While four paramilitary troopers were killed when fidayeen militants launched a pre-dawn attack on a CRPF camp in Pulwama district on New Year's eve, four policemen on patrol duty were killed when an improvised explosive device (IED) went off in Sopore on January 6.

"While fidayeen attack was not the first in recent months, the IED blast in Sopore has triggered concern among security agencies. They apprehend that some experts from across the border may have infiltrated recently and joined the militants here to revitalise and use the deadly old technique of IED blasts," the officer said.

After Hizb-ul-Mujahideen and Lashker-e-Toiba received major setbacks at the hands of security forces last year, Jaish took a frontal role in carrying out strikes on police and army. According to sources, Jaish has around 20 militants on its ranks and only three-four local militants remain associated with it.

"The killing of six Jaish militants in border town of Uri in Baramulla points out that Pakistani handlers want to send reinforcement even in the peak of winter when most of the infiltration routes are closed due to heavy snowfall," sources said.

More attacks likely

Earlier this month, J&K police had arrested two militants and nine alleged over ground workers (OGWs) of militants from Sopore. The module, police said, was directly controlled by Hizb-ul commander Riyaz Naikoo and Jaish's Pakistani commanders Hammad and Ali, all based in south Kashmir.

"Militants move freely in cars from north to south through a well established network of OGWs. If they feel the heat in south, they come to north Kashmir and keep low. There is a possibility of more fidayeen and IED attacks in coming months as local recruitment, as well as infiltration continues unabated," sources revealed.