Militants disguised as cricketers attack Srinagar mily camp
The militants were killed in a gunfight at the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) base just outside the restive city of Srinagar, under curfew for much of the last few weeks following protests and clashes with police.
Jammu and Kashmir state Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, describing the assault as a “suicide attack”, said three civilians were also wounded.”
A division of the CRPF was deployed at a camp here and children were playing cricket in the field when two militants fired grenades and attacked our division,” Abdul Gani Mir, Inspector General of Police, told Reuters TV. “We have lost five of our CRPF personnel who gunned down the two militants.”
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. Mir said initial investigations suggested the militants belonged to the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba group, which has a history of targeting civilians and the military in India.
Police said the attack began when the gunmen got out of a car outside a school near the camp and, disguised in cricket gear, walked across the school playing field to the camp and shot a sentry dead before firing indiscriminately into the base.
Militants often attacked security bases in Kashmir during the 1990s, when there was a full-blown insurgency against Indian rule in a region over which India and Pakistan fought two of their three wars.
But there have been very few in recent years. Tensions have been running high in Srinagar since last month, when India hanged a Kashmiri man for an attack on the country’s parliament in 2001. The authorities have sought to quash clashes between protesters and police by imposing curfews.
Meanwhile, hours after terrorist struck in the heart of Srinagar leaving five CRPF jawans dead, Union Home Secretary RK Singh said on Wednesday that the attack seems to be handiwork of militants who came from across the border in Pakistan.
Briefing reporters about the fidyayeen attack in Srinagar, Union Home Secretary RK Singh said, “The attack seems to be handiwork of militants who came from across the border in Pakistan.”
“Prima facie evidence suggests that these militants were from across the border. They were probably from Pakistan,” Singh was quoted as saying by Indian media
“We had inputs of four militants having entered; now two are dead. All our units are alert,” he added.
“The two militants who managed to escape after the attack are also said to be from Pakistan. The four are believed to from the LeT. A probe into the matter has been ordered and the security forces have been asked to take all preventive measures,” he said.
His statement came shortly after some militants stormed a CRPF camp adjoining a school in Bemina area of Srinagar killing five jawans and injuring at least seven others.
According to reports, militants sneaked inside a public school and opened indiscriminate firing on civilians, including school children who were playing cricket, and the security forces.
Two militants were shot dead by the security forces in the ensuing firing. Some civilians also sustained severe injuries in the incident.
LeT militant Hillal Maulavi is said to have carried out the brazen attack on the CRPF camp.
The security forces cordoned off the entire area to avoid any further casualty.
Senior security officials confirmed the killing of two militants in the cross firing.
“Five jawans have been martyred and seven have been injured,” IGP (Kashmir) Abdul Gani Mir told reporters at the spot. Four to five CRPF jawans were among the injured, he said.
Mir further said it was not immediately clear whether there were two or three militants who hurled grenades and opened indiscriminate firing at the CRPF camp.
“Two fidayeen (suicide militants) were neutralized by the security forces,” Mir said.
He said the group affiliation and identity of the militants killed in the incident was a matter of investigation.
The firing, which was suspended for some time, resumed after more gunshots were heard in the locality.
Meanwhile, a massive search operation was also launched to ascertain if more militants were hiding in the area.
It is believed to be a fidayeen attack as the militants first targeted the CRPF camp and hurled grenades on the security forces and then sneaked inside the public school, which was closed due to the shutdown called by separatist leaders today.
The shutdown has been called by the separatists who are demanding the return of mortal remains of Parliament attack convict Mohammad Afzal Guru..
Security officials also recovered a huge quantity of arms and ammunition from the slain militants.
Shortly after the attack, Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah also made a brief statement in the State Legislative Assembly over the incident.
Meanwhile, the PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti condemned the attack on the CRPF camp. “We condemn this terror attack in Srinagar in the strongest terms. Unfortunate that 5 CRPF jawans were killed,” she said.
Bemina area is important as it houses several vital installations, including a police public school, belonging to the CRPF, Indian Army, and the state government.
This is the first major suicide attack in Kashmir in the last three years with the last such incident taking place in January 2010.
On March 2, militants had shot dead two policemen in Handwara area of Kupwara district.—Agencies
Pakistan dismisses Indian allegation
Islamabad—Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Wednesday dismissed the “knee-jerk” allegation by a senior Indian official that militants who killed five Indian soldiers in Srinagar were from Pakistan.
In a press release issued Wednesday, it strongly rejected the remarks made by Indian Home Secretary RK Singh alleging that “prima facie evidence suggests that the militants who attacked the members of the Central Reserve Police Force were from across the border, they were probably from Pakistan”.
The rebuttal comes as militants disguised as cricketers killed five Indian paramilitary police earlier in the day in an ambush in the main city of Indian-administered Kashmir.
The local Hizbul Mujahideen group claimed responsibility for the attack in Srinagar’s Bemina district.
The Pakistan Foreign Office also rejected earlier statements made by the Indian defence minister accusing Pakistani military commandos of beheading Indian soldiers near the Kashmir border.
“Pakistan also rejects the statement made by Defence Minister AK Antony in the Rajya Sabha accusing the Special Services Group of Pakistan Army of beheading two Indian soldiers on the Line of Control on January 08, 2013,” added the press release.
The Foreign Office further warned that such a “trend of making irresponsible statements and knee-jerk reactions by senior Indian Government functionaries” could undermine efforts by the two neighbours to normalise relations.
It said Pakistan “remains committed to discussing and resolving all outstanding issues with India through a meaningful dialogue.”