Barely two days ahead of the elections in Anantnag parliamentary constituency, suspected militants killed three people, including two sarpanches (village heads), in south Kashmir's Tral area before attacking a third sarpanch in Pulwama district on Monday evening.
According to preliminary reports, the militants barged into the house of Ghulam Nabi Mir, a sarpanch associated with the ruling National Conference, at Batgund village in Tral and shot him dead. Another family member of his was also killed.
In another incident in the same area, a gunman shot dead Muhammad Anwer, a sarpanch of Amler village in Tral. He is said to be close to the Congress.
In the third attack at 10.15pm, suspected militants attacked Bashir Ahmad Malik, a sarpanch associated with the opposition People's Democratic Party from Hakerpora village in Pulwama district.
At first they tried to abduct Malik but when he managed to flee, they opened fire. He escaped unhurt in the attack.
Meanwhile, security forces have launched a manhunt in the areas. Monday's attacks were the fourth in south Kashmir over the past week. Militants had killed two policemen and a People's Democratic Party sarpanch earlier. Their aim is to scare mainstream leaders and their supporters from participating in the April 24 elections.