Eight soldiers were killed in an attack by militants in Srinagar on Monday, a day ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to the Kashmir Valley.
According to unconfirmed reports, more casualties are feared as many of the injured suffered serious injuries in the attack.
Sources say militants ambushed an army convoy despite high security alert in the valley ahead of Singh’s visit on Tuesday. Singh is likely to be accompanied by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi as well.
Militants laid siege to the convoy on Srinagar-Baramulla highway in the busy Hyderpora bypass area — around 5 km from Lal Chowk. The area is also adjacent to the international airport in Srinagar.
According to reports, two militants on a motorcycle fired on an army convoy returning from Leh in Ladakh. “Militants opened fire and hurled grenades.
Five jawans have died and many more were injured. The injured jawans were moved to a hospital and many of them are seriously injured,” said inspector general of police AG Mir.
However, late in the evening on Monday, the police confirmed that the number of casualties had gone up to eight.
Hizbul Mujahideen has claimed responsibility for the attack. A person called Baliguddin, identifying himself as spokesperson of the outfit, called a local news agency and said that Hizbul Mujahideen has formed several squads and attacks would be carried out in the city in the future as well.
The attack came close on the heels of the death of two policemen who were killed from a close range in Srinagar’s city centre Ameera Kadal on Saturday.
The separatists said they are opposed to Singh’s visit.
Mir however refused to call the ambush a ‘security lapse’. “We are on the job. We are fighting, and yes, losing previous lives in the process,” he added.
Sources say militants fled the area on the motorcycle, which was later abandoned in an adjacent area.
“The terrorists fled from the spot on a motorcycle towards Barzalla. They were intercepted at Barzalla and a brief exchange of fire took place in which one CRPF jawan and one policeman was injured.
The militants again managed to flee leaving the motorcycle behind. The area has been cordoned off and the search for the terrorists is going on,” a police spokesperson said.