Sarpanch Shot In Kupwara, DSP Attacked in Shopian

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Explosive Blows Up In Uri, Boy Injured

SRINAGAR: A deputy sarpanch was shot and injured in a Kupwara village on Wednesday morning, while suspected militants opened heavy fire in a busy Shopian market in the afternoon apparently targeting a senior police officer, even as a 16-year-old boy was seriously injured in Uri by leftover explosives.

A sitting panchayat member has been taken into custody along with his brother in the Kupwara attack, while a large area was put under siege in Shopian for search operations after the fierce shootout today.

According to the Kupwara police, deputy sarpanch Noor Muhammad Khan of Bongam, Haihama reported to the local precinct early this morning in an injured condition, saying he had been shot by gunmen when entering mosque premises for dawn prayers.

Hit in the right arm, Khan was admitted in the district hospital for treatment, and the Kupwara police has registered a case of attempted murder.

This was the fourth armed attack on rural representatives in Kashmir since the beginning of this year, which have left two panchayat members dead.

In preliminary investigations, the police has rounded up a local panchayat member Muhammad Maqbool Khan, alias Hata Khan, and his brother Abdul Rasheed.

 Confirming the arrests, the deputy superintendent of the police (DSP), operations, Kupwara, Sajjad Khaliq Bhat, said that a hunt had also been launched for a sacked Territorial Army member, Manzoor Ahmad Khan, alias Mana TA, who is absconding after the attack.

Manzoor has seven cases registered against him in Kupwara and one in Jammu, the DSP said, adding that the police was conducting raids to nab him.

The All Jammu and Kashmir Panchayat Conference has expressed deep concern over the latest attack, and held chief minister Omar Abdullah responsible for panchayat members’ “defencelessness.”

At an emergency meeting today, its leader, Shafiq Ahmad Mir, said that the chief minister had paid no attention to the “sensitive issue of panchayat members’ security.”

“Panchs and sarpanchs should not make any moves in haste, bit wait for the decision of the Panchayat Conference,” he said.

In another attack, the Imam Sahib area of Shopian in South Kashmir was rocked by gunfire when assailants apparently targeted a police officer in a busy market this afternoon.

Gunmen struck at around 4 p.m. when the deputy superintendent of the police (DSP) for operations, Irshad Ahmad, was in the market for shopping along with his security guards, near a camp of the special operations group (SOG) of the police.

Reports said that the attackers had taken position behind some houses near the camp, and tried to catch the police in cross fire from two sides.

The police officer and his colleagues took shelter in an armoured personnel carrier, and returned fire, leading to a prolonged shootout, but there were no casualties, reports said.

The gunfire sparked off panic in the market, with people dashing for cover and traders closing shops.

Police soon cordoned the area off with the help of the army to search for the attacker, but no arrests had been made when reports last came in.

The besieged neighbourhood had been lit up with flood lights powered by portable generators to help the combing operation, as the police suspected the attackers to be still present in the area.

Meanwhile, a 16-year-old boy was seriously injured in the frontier town of Uri in north Kashmir after tripping off some explosives in a paddy field this morning.

Maqsood Ahmad Mir had been working his farm in the Dhani Sayeedan when the blast occurred.

It was not clear whether the explosion was due to a leftover ordnance shell or a landmine.

The boy was shifted to the sub-district hospital in Uri, and the police described his condition as out of danger. 

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