Suspected Laskhar-e-Tayyeba (LeT) militants on Wednesday morning laid a booby trap outside a police station in militant hotbed Sopore in north Kashmir to launch a major attack on local police. Nine cops were injured, four critically, in the well orchestrated attack, aimed at multiple casualties.
Around 9 am, militants fired a grenade from under-barrel grenade launcher at the Sopore police station, 55 km north of Srinagar. The grenade landed inside the police station premises, located at congested old Sopore colony with labyrinth of lanes and bylanes nearby.
"Immediately after the blast, the police started a cordon and search operation of the adjoining area. During the process of throwing the cordon, an improvised explosive device (IED) planted by militants nearby went off injuring nine police personnel. It was a booby trap and we failed to detect it in advance," Superintendent of police Altaf Khan told the Hindustan Times.
Four critically injured cops were shifted to Srinagar hospital where their condition continued to remain unstable till last reports came in.
This was fifth militant attack on the police station this year. Sopore remained very restive for the last three years with hundreds of locals participating in protests and stone throwing. In Sopore, 11 protesters died in security forces' firing in 2010 unrest triggered by the killing of a school boy on June 11.
"The valley is witnessing radicalization of Islam and Sopore is manifestation of that. People here have a different bent of mind as it is Jamaat (e-Islami) bastion. We fear many stone-throwers are involved in terror activities now," said Khan.
Sopore is dominated by the LeT and the Hizbul Mujahideen militants. LeT's three big names Abdullah Unni, suspected to be a Paskitan-occupied Kashmir resident, Abu Huzaifa and Muzaffar Naiko, both locals, are active in the area. Unni is giving the police a slip for the past three years now.
"We killed LeT's 10 militants in the previous three months. It is trying to assert itself again by resorting to such attacks. Only four out of 15 LeT militants are left in the area," said Khan.
Sopore is a tough area for security forces since it's close to the border area of Kupwara and, of late, has become a transit point for militants to fan out into entire north Kashmir.
"It takes just one hour from border area of Zaloora to enter into Sopore," said Khan.
Militants and the local police are witnessing growing confrontation in the last two years. The militant focus of attacking on the army and the CRPF has entirely shifted on local police. Out of eight attacks in Sopore this year, five have been on local police.
Meanwhile, the police inspector injured by militants in Srinagar's Bemina area last week succumbed to his injuries at Srinagar hospital.