Two security personnel were killed in a hit-and-run militant attack in north Kashmir's volatile Pattan town. In the first major attack in the last five months of unrest, the duo was shot at from a point-blank range and their weapons were snatched by the militants.
Police said two-three unidentified militants emerged in busy Pattan market in the morning and fired from their automatic weapons at security personnel on a patrol there.
"One of the personnel lost his life on the spot and another injured succumbed to his injuries at a hospital later," said a police spokesman.
The personnel have been identified as head constables B Teja and Om Prakash.
The militants used the crowded market as cover and disappeared in the market lanes. They also snatched the weapons of the killed security personnel.
Baramulla district's Pattan town, 44 km north of Srinagar, has witnessed frequent protests in the last five months of unrest, triggered by the killing of a boy on June 11. Twelve people were killed in street protests in and around Pattan town. Palhalan area in Pattan was under curfew for more than one month.
Police sources said more than 80 militants were active in twin police districts of Sopore and Handwara, adjacent to Pattan town. Hizbul Mujahideen, police sources said, again has upper hand with the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen and Jash-e-Muhammad ranks shrinking over the period of time. Police fear the Hizb might have recruited more boys in the recent unrest in north Kashmir.
Wednesday's attack triggered panic in the area and the market, on the Srinagar-Baramulla highway, remained closed for most part of the day. It was a rare attack by militants after almost 10 months of the Lal Chowk attack on January 6 this year in which two militants were killed.
Most of the times, militants killed in the recent months were neutralized in security forces' offensives.