Two killed, six wounded in Srinagar gun battle
4 October 2006
Indo-Asian News Service
Srinagar: Two policemen were killed and six others injured in a fierce gun battle, which lasted over eight hours, between separatist guerrillas holed up inside a hotel and security forces in Srinagar city Wednesday. The security forces entered the restaurant of Standard Hotel in city centre Badshah Chowk from where the guerrillas had been firing at the troops.Farooq Ahmad, deputy inspector general of police, Kashmir range, told IANS: 'Our boys have entered the restaurant of the hotel situated on the second floor of the building and the holed up militants are now inside the kitchen of the hotel. 'They are not firing at the troops any more. Probably they are dead, but a confirmation can only be made after we finish the mop up operations,' he said.So far, two members of the special operations group (SOG) of the local police have been killed and six other persons, including two policemen and four civilians, wounded in this encounter that started early Wednesday.Asked whether the upper storey of the Standard Hotel, where the guerrillas had been holed up had caught fire, Ahmad said, 'Yes, there was fire in the upper storey of the hotel from where the militants were firing at us. Our boys have extinguished the fire despite a grave risk to their lives. The area is densely populated and we ensured that no collateral damage to civilian life or property occurred in the area'.Early Wednesday, heavily armed guerrillas had surfaced in the busy Badshah Chowk area of the city adjacent to city centre Lal Chowk.They fired at the guard post of the paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) located outside the Akhara Building, which is being used as makeshift battalion headquarters by the CRPF. The guerrillas also hurled grenades causing panic in the area. 'As shoppers, pedestrians, commuters and shopkeepers ran for cover, the militants entered the adjacent hotel. Additional reinforcements of the security forces were immediately rushed to the encounter site and the hotel building was surrounded. We managed to evacuate more than 200 civilians from the area before our boys stormed the hotel building,' a police officer said.'Two injured policemen and the four civilians, including Nazir Ahmad, the manager of the hotel, were shifted to the SHMS hospital in the city where they are being treated,' he added.A caller, identifying himself as the spokesperson of the Al-Mansoorain guerrilla group, told a local news agency that three members of the group had carried out the Badshah Chowk attack.