Militants Strike On Eve Of PM’s Visit, 8 Soldiers Killed

SRINAGAR: A day before the high profile two-day visit of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi to Jammu and Kashmir, militants launched a major attack on an Army convoy in high security Hyderpora quarter of the city Monday afternoon. Eight soldiers were killed and 14 others were injured in the audacious and daring attack. 

Three jawans were reportedly battling for life in Srinagar.

Militants attacked the convoy at Hyderpora bypass on the Airport-Lal Chowk road, outside a private hospital this evening, the second major strike in three days.

The militants said to be only two in number, had earlier snatched a motorcycle from two students in nearby Baghat area. They fled from the scene on the two-wheeler as Army cordoned off the area. 

While fleeing, the militants were intercepted by a joint naka party of police and CRPF at Barzulla. They hurled a grenade and opened firing, resulting in injuries to a CRPF sub-inspector, a policeman and a civilian woman. 

The militants then boarded a black Santro car and sped from the place. A high alert was sounded and security forces have been asked to remain on look out for the car. 

Army pressed into service choppers in an attempt to track the car used by the militants. The students, whose bike was hijacked, told police that militants were armed with AK 47 rifles.  

Hizbul Mujahideen has claimed responsibility for the attack. A person Baliguddin, identifying himself as spokesperson of the outfit, called up a local news agency and said several squads have been formed and similar attacks will be carried out in the city in the future as well.

The other associates of injured Ram while taking him to SMHS hospital for treatment opened some gun shots in air which created panic in the area, sources said.

Sources said the bike, militants had used, was snatched from two students at gun point at Khalid Abad, Baghat, Srinagar. The students have been identified as Saquib Ahmad Matta Son of Sanaullah and Zaid Farooq Son of Farooq Ahmad Matta, both residents of Mandir Bagh, Baghat, Srinagar.

The duo immediately approached Police Station Sadder, sources said, adding both the students were detained by police for questioning.

Soon after the incidents, SOG and CRPF cordoned off the respective areas.

Meanwhile, Inspector General of Police Kashmir Abdul Ghani Mir said that militants managed to flee after carrying out attacks at Hyderpora and Barzulla areas. “We have intensified the searches to locate them,” the IGP said.

Sources said Police had the information that militants may carry sensational attack ahead of Prime Minister’s visit.

The police had intercepts of possible attack by militants in Srinagar. “Despite all the cordons and high alert to keep militants at bay, they (militants) managed to carry this major attack,” official sources said.

They said June 25, 26 is a bigger challenge for forces to keep vigil over the sensitive areas ahead of PM’s visit.

Meanwhile, security was put on high alert following series of attacks in Srinagar City.

On March 13 this year, six CRPF men were killed after militants carried a fidayeen attack at Bemina Srinagar.

Two days back, on June 22, two policemen were killed in a militant shootout in Hari Singh High Street Srinagar.

Pertinently, the Hurriyat camps have called for a complete shutdown on June 25 against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Valley.

Monday’s  brazen attack came even as security has been beefed up across the valley in view of Prime Minister's two-day visit starting from Tuesday.

PMO sources in Delhi said that there was no change in Singh's programme.

The Prime Minister is scheduled to reach here along with UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on a two-day visit, during which he is expected to announce a package for border districts of Jammu and Kashmir.

Singh and Gandhi will also launch train service on a railway section between Qazigund in Kashmir and Banihal in Jammu region that will provide an all-weather link to the valley.

Militant outfit, Hizbul Mujahideen has claimed responsibility for the attack.

In a telephonic message to KNS, a caller identifying himself as Baleeguddin, spokesman of Hizbul Mujahideen said guerillas of the outfit carried out the attack on Army.

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