J&K Gets Reminder: 4 Groups, Including Jaish, Say We Did It
14 April 2006
The Indian Express
Srinagar: Terror returned to Srinagar today just as the city geared for its biggest tourist season in 16 years. Militants struck at seven places in as many hours, leaving at least five dead and 40 injured. The strikes began at noon, and in the next 90 minutes, militants struck five times on main roads in an area of 3 km. At sundown, they returned and lobbed two more grenades. Four militant groups, Jamiat- ul Mujahideen, Jaish-e-Mohammad, Islamic Front and Al Mansoorian, separately claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying their targets were security forces. The Election Commission had directed authorities to step up security in four Assembly constituencies where by-polls are scheduled for April 24. This includes Bhaderwah from where Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad is contesting. The attacks took place at a time when an estimated 5,000 domestic and 400 foreign tourists are in Srinagar city. According to the Tourism Department, all hotels and houseboats in the city are booked until mid-June while six airlines are operating nine flights a day to ferry tourists to Srinagar. Shaheena Hakeem, 42, was walking with her daughter on the Dal banks when a grenade exploded on the road. When she fell, her daughter dragged her to a corner and shouted for help. But her mother died in her lap. Deepa Joshi, 22, was just stepping out of the Hanuman temple along with her family when a grenade hit her on the face. She died on the spot while her mother, sister and aunt were injured. At noon, a grenade was hurled at a BSF vehicle on Maulana Azad Road. Two BSF men were injured. Thirty minutes later and barely a few hundred metres away, another grenade was thrown at a security force bunker near the Hanuman Mandir on Hari Singh High Street. The grenade missed the target and exploded on the road, killing two passersby and leaving three injured. Within five minutes, two grenade attacks took place in Batamaloo and Magharmal Bagh. While two policemen were injured at Batamaloo, no one was hurt in the Magharmal Bagh attack. At 1.25 pm, militants resurfaced and hurled a grenade in Boulevard on the Dal banks, injuring six, including two tourists. Then there was a pause for several hours as police intensified security checks. But at 6 pm, militants struck in Sekidafar locality in downtown city throwing a grenade on a security patrol, leaving eight injured. An hour later, another grenade was hurled in neighbouring Bohri Kadal, injuring five more. 'This is yet another desperate attempt to disrupt life here,' Director General of Police Gopal Sharma said. 'They (militants) are attacking common people'. Sharma said that the police and security forces had been put on high alert immediately after the first grenade blast. 'We have got some clues and are hopeful of a breakthrough soon,' he said.