A policeman and a civilian were killed and eight people injured in this north Kashmir town Friday when militants bombed a police station and then ambushed police officials, marking an upsurge in violence in the valley since the new year, police said.
Panic gripped Sopore town, 50 km from Srinagar, after militants hurled a grenade at the police station, hours before the special weekly Friday afternoon prayers.
"The grenade hit the roof top of the building and exploded at the entrance of the police station after rolling down," a police official told IANS.
The blast injured a passerby, Lateef Mirchal, a Congress activist.
The attackers then waited in a nearby lane to ambush police officers who would come to the spot.
Nearly 45 minutes later, when police officers reached there, the militants, whose number was not known, opened fire, triggering a gun battle.
"When the area superintendent of police reached the spot, the militants who were hiding in a lane fired at the security men," the police officer said.
The firing left a policeman and a civilian, Parveez Ahmad, dead. Four policemen and three civilians were injured, the official said.
The militants escaped as security forces cordoned off the area to carry out search operations.
"Security forces have been put on high alert and searches are on to trace the terrorists," the police official said.
The attack follows six violent incidents in the state since the beginning of this year.
Last week, the valley witnessed four violent incidents, including a suicide attack in the bustling market place of Lal Chowk in Srinagar. The 23-hour terror seige in Lal Chowk left two attackers, a civilian and a policeman dead.
Security forces have been put on alert amid intelligence reports that terrorists who have recently infiltrated from across the border with Pakistan are getting active and spreading across the valley.
At the end of last year, the government had claimed that violence has fallen steeply in Jammu and Kashmir, which has been battling a 20-year-old separatist war. The government was planning to reduce troops in the state.
"Security agencies have inputs that militants are desperate and regrouping to launch fresh attacks. There has been infiltration from across the border," an intelligence official said in Srinagar.
Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram had last week said that security forces in Jammu and Kashmir must maintain a "high level of vigilance" considering that the state was vulnerable to militant attacks.