IN A major strike, eight CRPF personnel were killed and at least 20 others injured when militants attacked their convoy on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway near Pampore town in south Kashmir on Saturday.
Officials said a CRPF convoy comprising six vehicles was attacked by militants near Frisal village in Pampore area at around 4:40 pm. Sources said the convoy was on its way from Pantha chowk to Pampore.
“It happened in 10 minutes… three to four militants targeted a CRPF convoy… eight security personnel succumbed to their injuries,’’ said a senior officer.
Two militants were killed in the gunbattle that ensued. Police are trying to ascertain whether they were locals or foreigners.
Claiming responsibility for the attack, the Lashkar-e-Toiba said it was carried out by a two-member fidayeen squad. The Lashkar spokesman also warned of similar attacks in future.
Officials said the militants opened fire on a bus in which over 40 CRPF personnel were travelling. “The aim of the attack was to inflict high casualties on the security forces,’’ said a senior police officer.
Sources said the militants used a vehicle to reach the highway. Officials said some of the attackers may have managed to escape from the spot. Teams of Special Operation Group of the police, Army’s Rashtriya Rifles and CRPF commandos have cordoned off the area.
Confirming the death of eight personnel, CRPF spokesman Bhavesh Kumar Choudhary said: “We are trying to establish which group is responsible.’’
Condemning the attack, J&K Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said: “The elements inimical to interests of J&K have always tried to derail the peace efforts and the latest militant strike at Pampore is again aimed at subverting the peace and development initiatives launched by the government.’’
Despite the presence of road opening parties, militants have managed to target security personnel on the highway several times in the last few months.
On June 3, three BSF personnel were killed when militants targeted their convoy at Bijbhera in South Kashmir, about 20 kilometres from today’s attack site. The Hizbul Mujahideen claimed responsibility for that attack.
In February, two CRPF personnel were killed and 11 others injured in a similar attack on the national highway at Pampore in South Kashmir. The militants later took refuge at a nearby institute and the encounter lasted for three days.
In December last year, a deputy superintendent of police and his guard were seriously injured when militants targeted a police vehicle at Bijbhera on the national highway.