In the second major attack in two months, militants killed four police personnel near Kashmir's Sopore town, 55 km north of Srinagar, on Friday afternoon and reportedly snatched weapons.
Preliminary reports suggest that the militants had laid an ambush at Hygam, 12 km from Sopore. A police team, on its way to Peer Mohalla village, disembarked near Hygam at 5.30 pm when unidentified militants opened fire from heavy weapons and killed all four policemen travelling in a police vehicle.
Srinagar-based zonal headquarters' spokesman identified the slain cops as head constable Abdul Rahim, constable Mudasir and two special police officers Gulshan Ahmad and Mudasir Ahmad.
A heavy contingent of the police and the CRPF has rushed to the spot and a combing operation is on to nab the militants, who fled from the spot.
Senior police officials refused to divulge more details saying "investigations are on". No militant outfit has claimed responsibility for the attack.
The four-man police patrol had come from a small police post of Pouth Kha village reportedly after receiving a phone call about a theft in the area. The police, sources said, are investigating whether the phone call was genuine or a trap. Two rifles were reportedly lifted by the attacking militants. The police have not confirmed this.
On March 13, five CRPF personnel were killed in Srinagar by two militants.
Friday's attack has come at a time when the police made some major successes against militants in Sopore area following the arrest of Lashkar-e-Toiba operational commander Qari Naveed alias Fahdullah on April 17. One militant was killed and another arrested in a police operation in which around a dozen over-ground workers were rounded up to defuse LeT's capabilities to attack again.
According to the latest police figures, around 76 militants are active in Kashmir valley. A police report suggests that militants are planning sensational attacks to show their presence, with an eye on the Srinagar-Baramulla national highway and Srinagar.
Chief minister Omar Abdullah described Friday's attack as "an act of cowards".
Opposition People's Democratic Party president Mehbooba Mufti too condemned the attack. "This dastardly attack did not achieve anything but bloodshed and four devastated families," said Mufti, while extending condolences to the families of the cops.