In the second attack on security forces in less than 24 hours in south Kashmir, two armed militants attacked a police checkpost in Anantnag town, killing an assistant sub-inspector and a police constable before fleeing the spot.
On Friday evening, militants had ambushed a BSF convoy on a national highway in neighbouring Bijbehara town, killing three BSF personnel.
Director General of Police K Rajendra visited Anantnag and chaired a high-level security review meeting. “Militants fired on policemen deployed near the bus station at close range. Police also opened fire on the militants. Two policemen, including an officer, were killed in the attack,” a senior police officer said.
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Eyewitnesses said militants carrying AK rifles targeted the police naka party at General Bus stand in Anantnag at 11.15 am.
The attack created panic in the town and prompted shopkeepers to down their shutters. Soon after the attack, pictures purportedly showing the two militants — one of them carrying a green bag — went viral on social networking websites. The veracity of the pictures could not be established.
Officials said since the attackers were not wearing masks, they had been identified. Sources said the attackers are active in neighbouring Kulgam region. A hunt is on to track them.
Security in south Kashmir has been beefed up and vehicles are being checked on highways. So far, no militant group has claimed responsibility for the attack. The slain policemen have been identified as ASI Bashir Ahmad and constable Riyaz Ahmad — both residents of south Kashmir.
The bypoll for the Anantnag constituency is scheduled for June 22. J&K CM Mehbooba Mufti is one of the contenders for the seat, previously held by her father Mufti Mohammad Sayeed. Eight other people are in the fray.
This byelection is crucial for Mehbooba as it is mandatory for her to get elected to the assembly within six months of taking oath.
“For many years, there has not been a major militant attack in Anantnag. Today’s attack could be a ploy to scare voters,” said a senior police officer.
This is the third attack on the the J&K police in less than two weeks. On May 23, three policemen were killed when militants attacked policemen at two different places in Srinagar. Hizbul Mujahideen had claimed responsibility for the attack. Two days later, a police constable was killed in a militant attack in Monghema Pulwama.