June 13, 2021 1:15:00 am
Two policemen and two civilians were killed in north Kashmir’s Sopore on Saturday after militants targeted a police vehicle, using an under-barrel grenade launcher and bullet-proof-piercing ammunition. Two policemen, including an officer, and a civilian were wounded.
The attack happened in the afternoon, when a group of militants first fired an under-barrel grenade and then opened indiscriminate fire at the police vehicle from close quarters near the main Sopore chowk. A fierce shootout followed as police tried to repulse the attack.
Director General of Police Dilbagh Singh blamed the LeT for the attack. A senior police officer identified two of the attackers as local militants Fayaz Ahmad War and Mudasir Pandith. The injured were rushed to hospital, with four, including two policemen, declared dead on arrival. The deceased were identified as Constables Waseem Ahmad and Showkat Ahmad, and civilians Bashir Ahmad and Manzoor Ahmad. Sub-Inspector Mukesh Kumar was among those injured.
Saturday’s shootout was the first major attack in Sopore after March 30, when militants had stormed the Sopore Municipal Council office, killing two councillors and a policeman. Police had blamed Pandith for that attack too.
Inspector General of Police, Kashmir, Vijay Kumar, who visited Sopore and chaired a review meeting with security forces in the area, said, the police party was on duty to enforce Covid protocols. There is a weekend curfew in place but some vendors had put out carts in Sopore.
Locals accused police of beating up people and damaging vehicles after the attack. Police, however, claimed an attempt to incite the public. “Some elements in society are trying to instigate the sentiments of the general public against the forces by misrepresenting the facts of the incident… (They) will not be spared,” police said in a statement.
Offering his condolences to the families of the deceased, Lt Governor Manoj Sinha said. “Such a despicable and cowardly act will not go unpunished.”
Mainstream political leaders also condemned the incident. “Such attacks can’t solve the issue of Jammu and Kashmir,” former Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said. “The gun won’t resolve it, whether it is the gun of New Delhi or the gun picked up by youth here. It rather complicates things. Solution to every issue lies in peaceful dialogue.”
Ex-CM Omar Abdullah said, “I mince no words in my condemnation of the outrageous bloodshed.”
“Mr gunmen, really want to know whose bloody side are you on,” tweeted Peoples Conference president Sajad Lone.
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