Five CRPF men were killed Wednesday when two militants disguised as cricketers opened fire at their camp in the heart of the city in first such suicide strike in the Valley in three years.
The militants were killed in the gunfight that followed which also left four Central Reserve Police Force men and four boys, who were playing cricket in the school compound that housed the camp, injured.
The school was shut as separatists had called strike for the return of the remains of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, who was hanged on February 9.
The two men entered the school compound at around 10.45am. They walked through the school's playground to the camp, shot the sentry dead at the guard post and started hurling grenades, which they had hidden in cricket kits, at the barracks, said sources. They followed it up with automatic fire, killing four personnel. A gunfight ensued in which the militants were killed.
Kashmir-based terror outfit Hizbul Mujahideen claimed the attacks and warned of more. The police said the attack bore imprints of Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba.
Reports from New Delhi said Hizb had retracted the statement. “Prima facie the terrorists don’t appear to be local... first impressions are that they were possibly from Pakistan,” home secretary RK Singh said in Delhi.
But police sources in Srinagar said there was a possibility that one of the militants was a resident of north Kashmir.
Various militants groups had vowed to avenge Guru's death, but so far no such link has been drawn with Wednesday's strike. It is being seen as a setback for chief minister Omar Abdullah's efforts to get the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act scrapped from parts of the state.
In January 2010, a CRPF man and two militants were killed in a suicide attack on Lal Chowk, Srinagar's commercial hub.