Fidayeen terror returns to Srinagar after two years

Front

Fidayeen militants returned to Srinagar after two years on Wednesday when two men carrying AK rifles and grenades appeared in the busy Lal Chowk market and attacked a police vehicle, killing a policeman and injuring eight people, including a cameraman.

At the time of going to press, the militants were holed up in a hotel.

This is the first major militant strike in the city after a consistent decline in violence across Kashmir in the past few years. In fact, Director General of Police Kuldip Khoda recently said that ever since militancy erupted in Kashmir, violence was at its lowest in 2009.

Jamiat-ul-Mujahideen, a little-known militant outfit, has claimed responsibility for the attack. A caller identifying himself as Jamait spokesman called a local news agency in Srinagar and said that three of its cadres carried out the attack at Lal Chowk.

Eyewitnesses said that the militants were hiding their rifles beneath the phiran (long traditional gown). "Around 2.30 in the afternoon, I saw two-to-three persons who were wearing phirans. They threw a grenade at a police vehicle. The driver of the vehicle died on the spot," said Mukthar Ahmad, a shopkeeper. "Shopkeepers, customers, passers-by, everybody ran for cover. The militants ran towards Punjab Hotel that is close to the CRPF camp and are still there," he said.

Inspector General of Police Kashmir Range Farooq Ahmad said that at least one militant is holed up inside a hotel building at Lal Chowk. "We have cordoned off the area and are going ahead very carefully as there are a number of civilians still holed up in the hotels and adjacent buildings."

Ahmad, who is monitoring the operation at the spot, said one policeman was killed in the initial attack.

After the attack, J-K Police and Central Reserve Police Force encircled Lal Chowk, sealing all its entry and exit points. In fact, the police blocked the city's two main highways Residency Road and MA Road. Gunshots were heard after a long time in the city centre where groups of anxious residents had gathered, looking for information about the civilians.

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