BSNL Franchise Attacked in Sopore, 1 Killed

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Telecom Businesses Come to Grinduing Halt in Apple Town

Sopore SRINAGAR:  Days after mysterious posters from a militant outfit surfaced in restive North Kashmir’s Sopore town, in which people associated with the telecommunication business were directed to windup their businesses within a week’s time, the unidentified armed men Monday barged into a telecom centre and fired indiscriminately on the employees killing one and injuring two others.

An eyewitness Reyaz Ahmed who was accompanying one of his injured relative at SMHS hospital said at around 10:45 A.M, three militants came in a Maruti car and parked their vehicle at Shah Faisal Market. Two of them came down from the car but one sat on driving seat so that they could flee immediately after the attack,” they said, adding: “the two pistol borne militants went upstairs and barged into Iqra Telecommunication. The gunmen fired on three of its employees and fled from the spot in the same car.”

The injured were rushed to SMHS Hospital Srinagar where a resident of Phorupath Handwara Rafiq Ahmed Dar son of Muhammad Akbar succumbed to his injuries. “Rafiq had got a two bullets in his chest and he died soon after he was brought to the hospital. The two other injured namely the owner of the Telecom Centre Ghulam Muhammad Shah alias Wakeel son of Abdul Majid a resident of Noorbagh Sopore and Imtiyaz Ahmed Lone son of Abdul Rashid of Achabal Sopore are stable but have been kept under observation,” a doctor at SMHS hospital said.

Pertinently, after the surfacing of warning posters, unidentified men had lobbed two grenades near Airtel tower in Sopore on Saturday evening. From past three weeks, the residents of Sopore were unable to avail recharge facilities anywhere in the town as all the cellular outlets had downed sutters following the threats.  

On May 1 this month, masked pistol borne youth had raided three outlets of cellular companies after their communication device, which they had reportedly installed on a mobile tower near Badam Bagh Sopore went missing.

The Monday’s assault came just a day after unknown assailants tried to blow up a mobile telecommunication tower in Kralteng area of the Sopore Town by hurling two grenades. Locals said one of the two grenades exploded but another failed and was later defused by Bomb Disposal Squad. There was no loss of life or property.

The tensions between suspected militants and telecom companies run high in Sopore Town since a communication device installed atop by former was removed by telecom officials from an Airtel mobile tower Badambagh Sopore. Following the development, a group of pistol borne gunmen – believed to be militants by police – raided the outlets of three leading telecom companies which include Vodafone, Airtel and Aircel in the town on May 1 and allegedly thrashed some of their employees, security officials had said. 

The incident forced the telecom officials and their retailers to suspend their activities in the Town till date.

The things didn’t stop here. The posters warning the telecommunication companies to close their services also surfaced in the town. “We warn these telecommunication companies to close all networking services, close their offices and stop recharging services as well. We warn the retailers as well to stop recharging the subscribers within seven days,” read the posters of hitherto unknown Lashkar-e-Islam outfit. The gunmen reportedly have held the telecommunication companies exclusively responsible for the killing and arrest of top militant commanders in the town.

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