HANDWARA: After a long lull militants struck in this north Kashmir township during rush hour Saturday morning and shot dead two policemen.
The incident took place at Handwara Bus Stand barely 200 feet away from the Environmental Hall (EH) where GoC 15 Corps, Lieutenant General Om Prakash along with other top Army brass was present in connection with a Sadbhavna function.
According to police sources, nearly three militants shot the two on-duty Indian Reserve Police constables at a point-blank range around 11.10am.
Giving details police sources said that a red van appeared near bus stand and two to three militants present in the van got down and shot two policemen at a point blank range.
Soon after shooting policemen militants managed to flee from the scene, they said.
Police sources said highly trained gunmen had fired only two bullets as they have recovered only two empty cartridges from the spot. The bullets had pierced through the heads of the victim cops resulting in their on the spot death.
The slain cops have been identified as Santosh Singh (26), a resident of Kathua district, and Azad Chand (27), a resident of Udhampur district. They had joined the police services in 2009.
According to CNS gunshots created panic in the area and the army personnel on duty in and around EH cordoned off the area immediately.
Additional troops appeared on the scene to secure the area around EH.
Inspector General of Police S.M.Sahai also reached their to take stock of the situation, these reports said.
Though main target of militants have been Panchayat members in recent past it was first time after eight months that police personnel have been targeted.
Earlier militants had killed a policeman in July 2012 in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district.
News reports quoting police sources said militant groups Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba have sharpshooters in their ranks.
According to reports at the time of attack, an important function under Sadbhavna programme was underway in which top Army and police brass including GoC 15 Corps, Lieutenant General Om Prakash, Major General Sarat Chand General Officer Commanding counter insurgency Kilo force, 7 Sector Rashtriya Rifles Commander A.Arun , SP Handwara Mohammad Aslam and others were present.
Sahai told reporters later that the attack manifested utter frustration on part of militants. This attack proves that militants have failed on all fronts and now they have started targeting the police personnel, Sahai told reporters in Handwara and added that militants responsible for todays attack will not be spared.
Sahai said that it is wrong to say that the graph of militancy in North Kashmir has increased. The graph of militancy has decreased considerably. Stray incidents of militancy cant support this argument that militancy is increasing. In fact it (militancy) is breathing its last and soon it will be wiped out from the whole state, IGP said.
Meanwhile, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has condemned the killing of police personnel at Handwara and described it an act of cowardice.
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