Militants on motorbike target army bus in Kashmir, 3 soldiers killed
Motorcycle-riding militants fired on an army bus in southern Kashmir on Saturday, killing three soldiers, but the fatalities could have been higher had the driver not kept going despite being shot, police said.
Most of the soldiers were returning from leave or moving to their new deployment, and were unarmed. The attack occurred around 2pm at a crowded place in Pampore, limiting the soldiers’ ability to retaliate with full force an army spokesman said.
The wounded soldiers were moved to the base hospital in Srinagar but three of them did not survive. Two security personnel, including the driver of the army bus, were wounded.
The bus was going from Jammu to the state’s summer capital Srinagar. The shooting led to panic in the area, and the attackers fled once the soldiers prepared to retaliate.
After years of decline, militant violence increased in Kashmir this year, deepening a chill in ties with Pakistan whom India directly or indirectly blamed for at least three deadly attacks on military bases in Pathankot in Punjab and Kashmir’s Uri and Nagrota.
The attack comes at a time Kashmir has been limping back to normal after the killing of militant Burhan Wani by government forces sparked five months of protests across the region that left some 90 people dead.
“A bad year in terms of security force casualties just got worse,” Omar Abdullah, the leader of Jammu and Kashmir’s main opposition party National Conference, said in a Twitter post following the attack.
Officials said security forces cordoned off the attack site and launched a search for the attackers.
This was the fourth militant attack on security force this year in Pampore on the outskirts of Srinagar, including two major holdups.
Eight CRPF personnel were killed and 20 injured on June 25 in an ambush on a convoy in the town’s Frestbal area. Two militants had also been killed in the attack.
In February, five security personnel and a civilian were killed after militants first attacked a CRPF convoy and then stormed the landmark EDI building on the Srinagar-Jammu highway. An ensuing encounter lasted about 48 hours and ended with the killing of three militants. The building saw another militant holdup in October.