Updated: March 30, 2021 12:28:35 am
IN THE second major attack in the Kashmir Valley in less than a week, militants barged into the municipal council office in Sopore and opened fire, killing a councillor and a policeman while leaving another councillor critically injured.
According to local officials, over a dozen councillors had a “narrow escape” as the attack occurred after they had assembled for a meeting on Monday afternoon. The Sopore Municipal Council (SMC) office is located inside a private building that also houses several shops and polyclinics.
Sopore SSP Sudhanshu Verma said two militants were involved in the attack. IGP (Kashmir) Vijay Kumar, who visited Sopore after the attack, said the attackers belonged to Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) and that one of them was a foreigner.
“Preliminary investigations reveal that terrorists had fired indiscriminately… resulting in injuries to two municipal councillors and a police personnel,” J-K Police said in an official release, adding that one of the councillors and the policeman succumbed to the injuries later.
Police have identified those killed as councillor Riyaz Ahmad Peer and Special Police Officer (SPO) Shafqat Nazir. The injured councillor has been identified as Riyaz’s father-in-law Shams-ud-din Pir.
Some of those who survived the attack told The Indian Express that there were 14-15 councillors in the office of the Executive Officer for the meeting when the militants barged in.
“The meeting had begun when we heard gunfire. All of us would have been killed if the PSOs (Personal Security Officers) had not been there and opened fire in the air,” said Mohammad Yousuf Radoo, a councillor who was in the room during the attack.
Another councillor, Akhtar Rasool, said “Riyaz and Shams-ud-din were with us and the policeman was outside” when the attack happened. “We heard a big thud and Riyaz fell down. Shams-ud-din also said he had been hit. There was chaos. No one came forward to help, one of the councillors took the injured to the hospital (adjacent to the SMC office),” he said.
Akhtar said they had informed police about Monday’s meeting three days ago. “There were five police personnel present. Three were guards of Masrat (Rasool Kar, a councillor) and two of Abdul Ahad (another councillor). They did their best,” he said.
According to J&K Police, IGP (Kashmir) took note of the “poor and inappropriate retaliation by the PSOs of protected persons present on spot and directed SSP Sopore to put four PSOs under suspension”.
“(The IGP) chaired a security review meeting with commander 5-Sector Rashtriya Rifles, DIG CRPF and SSP Sopore. The main focus of the meeting was today’s attack and necessary security measures to be taken to counter such attacks,” police said.
Last Thursday, militants had targeted a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) vehicle on the Srinagar-Baramulla national highway at Lawaypora killing two paramilitary personnel and injuring two. One of the injured personnel died on Monday.
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