Five Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel, including two assistant sub inspectors, and a militant were killed while four others, including a Station House Officer, sustained injuries in a fidayeen attack in this south Kashmir town on Wednesday.
The attack took place at around 4:45 pm near Oxford Presentation School along the busy Khanabal-Pahalgam (KP) road area of the town.
It was the first major attack on the security forces since 14 February Lethpora- Pampore attack, which left at least 40 CRPF men dead.
A source said that a militant came out from the vehicle, lobbed grenades and started firing indiscriminately on the Road opening Party of CRPF from a point-blank range. The fire was retaliated, triggering a shootout, he said.
“ The police party led by SHO Saddar Anantnag Arshad Khan also rushed to the spot, but the militant kept on engaging the security forces for around fifteen minutes,” the source added.
Soon, reinforcement of Police, CRPF, and Army rushed in towards the spot of attack and the militant was finally gunned down, the source said.
The videos which went viral on social media showed a lone militant, firing from the divider of the road, with the CRPF men and their vehicles around.
“Five CRPF men were killed on the spot, while three others, including a girl were injured in the exchange of fire,” a police officer said.
The slain militant, he said, is believed to be a Pakistani national.
Medical Superintendent, District Hospital Anantnag, said that six CRPF men were bought to the facility among them three were declared dead on arrival. The injured men were shifted to the Army’s base hospital in Srinagar, he added.
He said the SHO Arshad Khan, who had sustained a bullet injury in his chest, was also referred to Army hospital in critical condition from the district hospital.
Khan had taken over the charge of Anantnag police station barely a few weeks back. He was earlier posted as SHO Bijbehara.
“ A scooty borne girl student of IUST Snowber Shafi of Hanji Danter area of the town sustained bullet injury in foot in the exchange of fire and was treated in the hospital. The bullet had pierced her feet,” the MS said adding she was discharged after proper treatment.
Meanwhile, a police officer said, after sanitizing the areas two more bodies of CRPF men were retrieved.
The slain CRPF men were identified as ASI, Neeru Sharma, ASI Ramesh Kumar, constable Satinder Kumar, constable MK Khushwa and constable Mahesh Kumar.
The injured CRPF men were identified as constable Abhiminov Kumar, constable Rajinder Singh, and constable Kedar Nath. All of them are from 116 Battalion.
Panic grips Anantnag
The attack created panic in the area as people were seen running for safety. The shopkeepers left their shops open and ran for cover. “I was sipping tea near a tea stall when I heard gunshots followed by loud bangs. I left tea there and ran away towards a by lane,” said one Muhammad Junaid, an employee working with the privately owned company.
The students of Oxford Presentation school and nearby Government Degree College for Women had left by 3:30 pm. “An international conference on stress and psychology had just finished in the college when the attack happened. Some of the faculty members and the guests were still inside,” said a college faculty member.
As the firing stopped, the security forces cordoned off the area and launched extensive searches.
The youth in large numbers came out and pelted stones on the security forces along the KP road who retailed by lobbing teargas shells and firing chilly grenades and metallic pellets.
Meanwhile, senior police and CRPF officials rushed to DPL Khanabal Anantnag and participated in the wreath laying ceremony of the slain CRPF men.
DGP Singh visits Army hospital
Director General of Police Dilbag Singh visited 92 Base Hospital BB Cantt in Srinagar this evening and enquired about the health of personnel injured in the Anantnag attack.
He met the doctors treating the injured and impressed for all possible treatment for their early recovery.
The DGP also met the CRPF and a Police men injured in Sopore encounter.
The DGP was accompanied by DIG CKR V K Birdhi and SP East Srinagar.
Earlier IGP Kashmir SP Pani visited the hospital to know the welfare of injured personnel.
Al Umar claims responsibility
Militant outfit Al Umar Mujahideen claimed the responsibility for the attack and said all its men escaped safely.
In a tele-statement issued to local agency GNS the outfit spokesperson said its cadres carried the attack on the force personnel in which five of them were killed.
In another statement, the outfit claimed all its militants who carried the attack are safe and untouched and reached to a safe position.
The spokesperson defied the claims that one of their associates had been killed.