A staff member of government-run telecom operator BSNL was killed and two more were injured on Monday when militants opened fire at the company’s office in north Kashmir’s Sopore district, 50 km from Srinagar.
Just hours later, a Rashtriya Rifles patrol was ambushed by guerrillas in Kanjikulla Kokergund (Yaripora) area of Kulgam district. Soldier Dharam Ram of the Rashtriya Rifles was critically injured in the attack, and died later at a hospital, a police officer said.
The security forces were quick to retaliate and surrounded the attackers, triggering a gun battle. In the fierce exchange that erupted as security forces pinned down the militants, a separatist guerrilla was killed, police said.
In the first attack, the target was Irqa Telecom Centre in the crowded Iqbal Market in Sopore. The dead official has been identified as Mohammad Rafiq, 26. The militants managed to flee after the attack.
“There has been an attack on a telecom company. One person, who was critically injured, has died,’’ said a police spokesman based in Srinagar.
This is the first attack on any cellular franchise in the valley. Militants have been issuing threat to all cellular companies to wind up their operations in the area. On Sunday, a grenade was also lobbed at a tower of a telephone company.
Cellphones were never banned in the Valley by militants earlier. But lately, threatening posters asking for a ban on cellphone use have appeared at some places in the volatile Sopore district.
These posters by a little-known organisation Lashkar e- Islam have asked telecom operators to stop their operations in the area.