In two attacks, unidentified militants shot dead three policemen in Srinagar on Monday.
In the first lethal militant attack in Srinagar in almost three years, three policemen, including an assistant sub-inspector, were killed at two places in the city Monday.
Hizbul Mujahideen claimed responsibility for the killings and warned of similar attacks in the future.
Though the Jammu and Kashmir police have maintained that the city is militancy-free, the attacks indicate militants either managed to sneak into the city or some sleeper cells had been activated. Following the attacks, security was tightened and armed policemen were deployed at busy areas.
Director General of Police K Rajendra said the attacks were a desperate bid by militants to show their presence. “It is basically an act of desperation as groups that infiltrated recently have been wiped out. Of late, security forces have been achieving very good success,” he said.
In the first attack at 10.40 am, unidentified gunmen shot dead two policemen, including an ASI, at Bagh-e-Ali Mardan, about 200 metres from Zadibal police station. Police said both officers were unarmed but in uniform.
Eyewitnesses said the attackers came on a motorcycle and shot the policemen from point blank range before fleeing. The officers were shifted to a hospital, where they were declared dead on arrival. They were identified as ASI
Nazeer Ahmad and constable Bashir Ahmad, both residents of North Kashmir’s Kupwara district.
An hour later, about seven kilometres away in Tengpora, suspected militants attacked another policeman and managed to snatch his service rifle before fleeing the spot. Sources said the officer, Mohammad Sadiq, was on duty as the special police officer of a political leader, Mohammad Abdullah Chatwal, who contested the 2014 Lok Sabha polls as an independent candidate. Sadiq, too, was a resident of Kupwara.
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti visited district police lines and laid wreaths on the coffins of the policemen.
National Conference working president Omar Abdullah called the attacks a “worrying development”. “The government needs to move quickly to reassure residents of Srinagar and visitors,” he wrote on Twitter. The attacks come at a time when a large number of tourists are visiting the Valley.
The last attack on policemen in the city was on June 22, 2013, when two policemen were shot dead at Hari Singh High Street.
Hizbul Mujahideen spokesman Burhan-u-din said Monday’s attacks were carried by a special squad of the outfit and threatened similar attacks in the future. “The militants of the special squad killed three policemen of the special operation group of J&K police and also managed to snatch a rifle from the cops,” he said.