Militants intensify offensive with blasts, fidayeen in Valley
1 June 2007
The Daily Excelsior
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
Srinagar: Facing reverses at the receiving end for over a year now, militants today launched a major offensive against Police and security forces with a major suicide strike in Baramulla district and a powerful explosion in the Capital city of Srinagar in which two personnel and two militants got killed and 38 personnel sustained injuries. Two soldiers got killed and six injured when another blast occurred at a CRPF company headquarters in the south Kashmir district of Kulgam. Informed sources told EXCELSIOR that two militants of Lashkar-e- Toiba, who had laid an ambush while hiding in bushes just 5 meters from Srinagar-Muzzafarabad Road near Subsidiary Training Centre of J&K Police at Sheeri, Baramulla, opened indiscriminate gunfire when an Army convoy began passing through the spot at 1305 hours. Exchange of firing continued between the militants and security forces for about 20 minutes. At the same time, militants directed heavy volume of gunfire on STC, which was immediately retaliated by all the four LMG posts facing the highway. When firing subsided, one selection-grade constable of J&K Police was found dead and six others wounded. Sources said that one of the Army buses was aggressively targeted by militants in which one soldier was believed dead and 10 injured. Both the fidayeen were also killed in the gunbattle. Sources said that selection grade constable Anchal Singh of J&K Police, who was a resident of Basohli, died on spot. Four of the six injured Police personnel were identified as Sub Inspector Syed Mustafa, Sgct Mohammed Sayeed, Sgct Kulbir Singh and Sgct Hem Raj. They were all evacuated and admitted to a hospital where doctors described four personnel as critical. A Police spokesman said that senior officers, including DGP Gopal Sharma, IGP Kashmir S M Sahai, DIG north Kashmir B Srinivas, rushed to the spot and appreciated the timely reaction to the militant strike by the sentries, which left both the militants dead. DGP announced on the spot promotion of four Police personnel for showing 'exemplary professionalism' in killing the two militants and thwarting a possible tragedy. IGP Kashmir, S M Sahai, maintained that it was an attack on the Army convoy which spread to STC Sheeri. He said that the vigilant guards, manning four LMG posts, gunned down both the militants even as one constable got killed and five others sustained injuries. He said that an Army jawan was also killed in the gunbattle. Lashkar-e-Toiba spokesman, Dr Abdullah Ghaznavi, told EXCELSIOR in a satellite telephonic conversation that today's shootout at Sheeri was his organisation's fidayeen attack on the Army convoy as well as STC of J&K Police. He claimed that five Police personnel and six troopers got killed and 15 more injured. He confirmed that both the suicide bombers got killed in the operation. Spokesman at Army's 15 Corps Headquarters, Lt Col A K Mathur, insisted that only one soldier, besides a Police constable, had died in the encounter. He said that both the militants were gunned down by troops of RR 46 Bn who were escorting the convoy as quick reaction team (QRT) and their weapons were seized. Earlier at 0700 hours today, militants caused a powerful IED blast, targeting a military convoy near Presentation Convent School in Rajbagh area of the capital city. Officials said that militants had planted a 20 kg IED beside the convoy route which was detonated with a remote control device. As the targeted bus suffered extensive damage in the explosion, sources said that 22 soldiers sustained injuries. Authorities confirmed that a bus was badly damaged but maintained that only 16 soldiers, travelling in it, had sustained injuries. They said that most of the soldiers were injured when pieces of shattered glasses hit their bodies. Sources said that militants and troops of RR 57 Bn engaged each other in a gunbattle at Lankrishi- Zalwan belt on the banks of Wular lake in Bandipore-Sopore belt last night. Even as troops seized one of the rifles dropped behind, all the three holed up militants managed to escape. Sources said that in separate operation, troops of RR 14 Bn busted a militant hideout and seized huge quantities of ration and other items stored in the hideout. Sources in south Kashmir said that a hand grenade went off accidentally when some soldiers were cleaning arms and ammunition for a Central team inspection at company headquarters of CRPF 161 Bn at Nihama, on Kulgam-Damhal Hanjipora Road today. While two soldiers, namely head constable Dhoop Singh of Chattisgarh and constable Kajal Dubey of West Bengal got killed, six CRPF personnel sustained injuries. Three of the critically wounded soldiers were rushed to Srinagar. While two of them were admitted to SKIMS, Soura, one more was under treatment at SMHS Hospital. Meanwhile, two militants of Al-Badar Mujahideen, who had been killed in an encounter by troops of RR 51 Bn and SOG at Nagberan in Tral area yesterday, have been identified as Javed Ahmed Bhat S-o Ghulam Hassan Bhat R-o Damhal Khushipora and Ashiq Hussain Bhat S-o Abdul Gani Bhat R-o Wachi, Pulwama. A young man, who had committed suicide by jumping into river Jehlum at Budshah Bridge on May 29, has been identified as Jet Airways employee Anzar Ahmed Rishi S-o Abdur Rasheed Rishi R-o Zahidpora, Hawal. His dead body has been fished out in Fatehkadal area of downtown Srinagar. Official sources said that Rishi had quit his job under severe mental stress a month ago and finally committed suicide. Sources said that after Wednesday's IED blast near Chinkipora on Sopore-Bandipore Road, Police conducted a series of raids in Baramulla and Sopore towns since last evening. Three persons have been picked up for questioning from Sopore and one more from Baramulla. Reports, awaiting official confirmation, said that Police were close to a breakthrough in the investigation of Chinkipora blast that had been claimed by Hizbul Mujahideen.