Amid high alert and heightened security across the Valley a day ahead of Independence Day, militants targeted a police party in Srinagar, leaving two policemen dead and another injured.
Friday’s attack was the latest in a string of attacks carried out by militants on the army, police, paramilitary forces and political activists across the Valley over the last four months. The attacks also signal a shift in militants’ focus from south to north and central Kashmir. On Friday morning, militants appeared at Nowgam neighbourhood in Srinagar city and opened indiscriminate fire on a police party, leaving three policemen injured, of whom two died.
“They (militants) opened indiscriminate fire in which two of our men were martyred,” Inspector General of Police (IGP) Kashmir Vijay Kumar told reporters after the attack. “Yes, there was an input (about possible militant attack). Every year before January 26 and August 15, we have such inputs. Our men were prepared… they were wearing bullet-proof jackets. But they (militants) came from behind and attacked.”
Official figures reveal that militants have carried out at least 30 attacks on security forces and political activists in the Valley since April 1. At least 12 security personnel have been killed and 19 injured, and six political activists killed in these attacks.
Of the 30 militant attacks since April 1, at least 12 have been in north and central Kashmir. Security forces have also lost a number of personnel in gunfights initiated during cordon-and-search operations.
*On Wednesday, militants targeted an Army vehicle on the Srinagar-Baramulla national highway, leaving a soldier injured.
*On April 18, three CRPF men were killed and two injured in an attack by militants in north Kashmir’s Sopore.
*On May 4, three CRPF personnel were killed when militants fired at a joint checkpoint of the J&K Police and CRPF at Handwara. A civilian was killed in the crossfire.
*On May 20, two BSF personnel were killed in a militant attack at Pandach on the outskirts of Srinagar.
*On June 25, a CRPF personnel was killed when militants fired at a CRPF party in south Kashmir’s Bijbehara. A minor boy was killed in the crossfire.
*On July 8, militants shot dead a BJP leader and his father and brother in Bandipore.
Over the last five years, militants in north and central Kashmir – mostly foreigners – had lain low to escape the security radar. But the sudden increase in attacks in this region is turning into a headache for the security forces.
“Since 2016, out entire focus had shifted to south Kashmir. What helped us was that militants in north Kashmir remained by and large silent,” said a senior police officer. “It could well have been their strategy to regroup and reorganise. Over the last four months, we have seen a sudden increase in militant activity in not just north Kashmir, but also central Kashmir that includes Srinagar.”
Militants have carried out over 70 attacks – shoot-and-run and grenade – so far in 2020, killing at least 21 security force personnel and six political activists. In 2019, militants had carried out 82 attacks.
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