LETHPORA SUICIDE ATTACK: Bullets used by militants pierced bulletproof shields, reveals initial probe

The deadly attack carried out by three Jaish-e-Muhammad militants at Lethpora in Pulwama district on Sunday has left a “series of challenges” for security forces in Kashmir as preliminary investigations have suggested that the attackers used “steel-coated armour-piercing bullets to inflict maximum damage” to the central reserve police force personnel.

This is for apparently for the first time that militants have been found using bullets that pierce bulletproof shields used by forces to protect themselves during gunfights, an officer told Greater Kashmir.

The CRPF officer said that one of the four troopers who died in the attack was killed after being hit by steel-coated bullets that had pierced his bulletproof shield.

“Also, a bullet had hit and pierced through a vehicle in which an assistant commandant of CRPF was seated. This bullet left one CRPF man injured,” the officer said, wishing not to be named as he wasn’t authorised to speak with media.

He said that a bullet first pierced a bulletproof shield carried along by CRPF trooper Rajinder Kumar Nain and later hit him, leading to his death.

“The bullets recovered from the site of gunfight have been sent for forensic examination,” he said.

CRPF spokesman in Srinagar Rajesh Yadav said that while searching rooms of the building that came under attack, “we lost a key counter-insurgent Pradeep Kumar Panda, 33, the gallantry award winner for his active participation in the anti-militancy operations.”

“He was also carrying a bulletproof shield and wearing a bulletproof jacket. It’s being looked into whether a bullet had pierced his bulletproof chest shield, leading to his death,” he said.

Talking to Greater Kashmir, special director general of CRPF (J&K zone), S N Srivastava said that this is for the “second time” that Jaish-e-Muhammad used steel-coated bullets.

“In an earlier attack on district police-lines (DPL) Pulwama, same bullets were used. And now again, at Lethpora, the combination was same—Jaish militants and steel-coated bullets,” he said.

Inspector general of CRPF, Ravideep Singh Sahi claimed that it wasn’t yet ascertained whether the bullets were steel-coated, “but yes the Jaish militants have definitely updated their capacity where we can say bullets have velocity to penetrate the bulletproof shields.”

“We are waiting for the final report from the FSL Chandigarh. But one thing is clear that the bullets used in Lehtpora attack were not the ‘normal’ bullets,” he said.

Sahi said that use of bullets that pierce bulletproof shields is definitely a challenge, “but CRPF will accept it and face it too.”

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