Srinagar: In a major escalation five policemen and two bank employees were killed in a militant strike in Kulgam district of South Kashmir on Monday.
Reports said that a Jammu Kashmir Bank van (JK0P-9793) was heading towards Kulgam after dispensing cash at Nehama branch of J&K Bank, when it came under attack.
The van was returning to a bank in the village of Pumbai, around 70km south of Srinagar, when it was attacked.
One report said a group of militants in army fatigues were present on the secluded road when the vehicle was signalled to stop. The bank driver took the militants as army personnel and stopped his vehicle.
According to DIG South Kashmir, Swaivum Prakash Pani, the attackers dragged policemen out of their vehicle and shot them dead.
He said that militants later decamped with four service rifles of the slain policemen.
Militant outfit Hizbul Mujhadeen claimed responsibility for the attack. However, a spokesperson told local news agency CNS that the two bank employees were shot dead by securitymen.
We didnt attack the vehicle with intent to loot the cash. We have enough cash. We condemn the killing of the bank employees and want to clarify that they were shot dead by the securitymen, Burhanuddin said.
CNS quoting witnesses reported that it were civilians from the village who reached first to the spot and shifted the bodies to the hospital.
Government forces arrived later and cordoned off the area.
Doctors at District hospital Kulgam said that all the seven persons were brought dead. He identified two bank security guards as Muzaffar Ahmed Laway son of Muhammad Ayoub of Lagroo Kulgam and Javaid Ahmed Bhat son of Abdul Majid of Wesbatapora Kulgam whose bodies were handed over to the next of their kin.
Police sources said that the driver of the van identified as Shabir Ahmed Bhat son of Abdul Rashid Bhat of Sadarbazar Bijbehara escaped unhurt.
The slain policemen have been identified as Ishfaq Ahmed Hajam son of Abdul Ahad of Batpora Zakoora Srinagar, Muzaffar Ahmed Bhat son of Gul Muhammad of YK Pora Qazigund, ASI Bashir Ahmed Dar son of Abdul Gani of Bonigam Qazigund, Muhammad Qasim Khan son of Bashir Ahmed of Awoora Manwan Thregam, Kupwara, Farooq Ahmed son of Abdul Aziz of Nehama Lakhadipora Kulgam. Slain Assistant Sub-Inspector Bashir Ahmed according to police source was on the verge of retirement. All the slain cops were shifted to District Police Lines Kulgam where floral tributes were paid to them. Besides, top police officiers, Inspector General of Police SJM Geelani was also present there.
While talking to reporters, IGP Kashmir Zone said that the militant attack left 5 policemen and two bank guards dead. The attack was carried by Hizbul Mujhadeen outfit. The militants were three in number who were led by a local militant Umar Majid Wani, IGP said.
The incident comes against the backdrop of spiralling tension in the Valley, which has been reeling due to clashes and street protests since last July.
Kashmir has remained largely paralysed since government forces shot dead Hizbul Mujahideen leader Burhan Wani, touching off months of deadly street protests. The government responded with force, leaving more than 100 people dead and thousands wounded.
Violence spiked again in last month after eight people were killed during a by-election in Srinagar.
Since then, several video clips purportedly showing brutalities by security forces have also added to public anger.
Be Part of Quality Journalism
Quality journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce and despite all the hardships we still do it. Our reporters and editors are working overtime in Kashmir and beyond to cover what you care about, break big stories, and expose injustices that can change lives. Today more people are reading Kashmir Observer than ever, but only a handful are paying while advertising revenues are falling fast.