Eight CRPF jawans were killed and 20 others injured on Saturday in a militant ambush on a convoy in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district, the highest single-incident casualty in three years in the militancy-hit state.
Two militants were also killed in retaliatory firing by security personnel, police said giving details of the second major attack on a security convoy this month in the Kashmir valley.
The Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba claimed responsibility for the attack. In a statement to a local news agency, LeT spokesperson Abdullah Ghaznavi said that two members of its ‘fidayeen’ (suicide) squad carried out the attack.
I salute the courage of the CRPF personnel martyred today in J&K. They served the nation with utmost dedication. Pained by their demise.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) June 25, 2016
Kashmir police chief Syed Javaid Mujtaba Gilani attributed the rise in attacks on security forces to “high infiltration” of militants through the Line on Control (LoC).
An official said the militants attacked the Srinagar-bound three-vehicle CRPF convoy near Frestbal in Pampore town at around 5.50 pm, choosing a sharp bend on the Jammu-Srinagar highway to ambush the convoy.
Security agencies suspect a reconnaissance might have preceded the assault.
The militants fired intensely at one bus, leading to the high number of causalities.
“Eight of our men have been martyred including a sub-inspector,” CRPF DIG KK Sharma said.
The condition of five out of 20 injured security personnel, being treated at the Army’s 92 base hospital, is said to be critical.
According some accounts, two more militants were involved in the attack but there was no official confirmation.
The area was sealed and an alert issued about the possibility of two terrorists having fled the spot in a car towards Srinagar.
Traffic on the busy highway came to halt after the attack, while tension gripped nearby Pampore town.
Asked whether the slain terrorists were from across the border, Jammu and Kashmir director general of police K Rajendra said: “In all probability, they seem to be from Pakistan.”
Home minister Rajnath Singh tweeted after the attack, “My heart goes out to the families of the CRPF men who lost their lives in Pampore. I also pray for the speedy recovery of the injured.”
On June 3, three Border Security Force personnel were killed and five others were injured after militants ambushed their convoy on the same highway in Anantnag district.
Major militant attacks in J-K since 2013
June 3, 2016: Three Border Security Force personnel were killed and five more wounded after militants ambushed their convoy on the Srinagar-Jammu highway in Bijbehara in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district, around 45km from Srinagar.
February 20, 2016: Militants attacked a convoy of CRPF on the Srinagar-Jammu highway in Pampore and entered a government building nearby. The gunfight continued for more than 48 hours and ended with the death of three armymen, two CRPF men and one civilian besides three militants.
August 5, 2015: Two Lashkar-e-Taiba militants attacked a BSF convoy in the Udhampur district, killing two BSF jawans. One militant was killed while another Pakistani militant was captured alive by villagers.
December 5, 2014: Ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s election rally in Kashmir, six militants stormed an Indian Army camp in north Kashmir’s Uri. In the ensuing gun battle, eight army soldiers, including a Lieutenant-Colonel, three Jammu and Kashmir policemen and all six militants were killed.
June 24, 2013: Militants carried out a brazen attack on an army convoy, killing eight jawans and injuring 11 others near Hyderpora area on the outskirts of the Srinagar city.
With inputs from agencies