Five paramilitary personnel and a militant were killed while a police officer and a girl were injured critically, in a fidayeen (suicide) attack in south Kashmir’s Anantnag town on Wednesday.
Sources said the militants came out from a vehicle and fired indiscriminately on a joint party of security forces at KP road, Anantnag, 55 kilometres from here, at around 04:55 pm killing five CRPF men and injuring station house officer Sadder, Anantnag, Arshad Khan and a girl.
The attack took place near Oxford School in Chee Gali near the busy General Bus Stand in the town. Three slain CRPF personnel were identified as assistant sub-inspector Vinod Sharma, constables Satinder Kumar and Mahesh.
Sources said while one attacker was killed in the retaliatory action by the forces, his associate managed to flee from the spot taking advantage of the melee. The slain militant has not yet been identified.
A CRPF spokesman while confirming the attack, said, “Troops of B/116 deployed for law and order duties was fired upon by suspected vehicle-borne militants.”
He confirmed the deaths of three CRPF personnel and injuries to three others and the killing of a militant.
One of the two routes for annual Amarnath yatra, which is scheduled to begin from July 1, passes through KP Road. A major terror attack took place on Amarnath pilgrims in July 2017 when eight of them were killed by Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terrorists opened fire on their bus near Khanabal, just a few kilometres away from where the incident occurred on Wednesday.
The now defunct Al-Umar Mujahideen outfit claimed responsibility of the attack. Local news gathering agency KNS quoting a statement of the outfit said that “five forces personnel were killed today in the attack that was carried out by Al-Umar.”
Al-Umar was active during the ’90s and had later vanished. It’s commander Mushtaq Zarger, was one among the three terrorists released in December 1999 as a result of the hostage swap following the Indian Airlines flight 814 hijacking. Since then Zarger is believed to be residing in Pakistan.
A senior police officer said it apparently looked like a ‘fidayeen’ attack carried out by Jaish-e-Mohammad. “However, as the Jaish is under pressure from Pakistani authorities, the responsibility was claimed by Al-Umar outfit, which during the ’90s was dominated by local militants. However, the outfit is now defunct,” he said.
The officer said as the attack took in a busy marketplace, security forces exercised maximum restraint to avoid civilian casualties.
The attack comes nearly four months after 40 CRPF personnel were killed in a suicide blast in neighbouring Pulwama district, which had brought India and Pakistan close to a war.