2 militants target convoy on Srinagar-Jammu Highway in Pampore Attackers killed; LeT claims responsibility
In the deadliest attack on forces in recent years, eight paramilitary CRPF personnel were killed and 22 others wounded when militants rained bullets on a bus carrying them at Pampore, near Srinagar Saturday afternoon in what appeared to be a Fidayeen attack.
Inspector General of CRPF, Nalin Prabhat, said the bus, which was returning to Srinagar after a firing exercise at Letpora Awantipora, was ambushed by two militants who came from the opposite side. "The militants got down from a car and fired at the bus. Before they could enter the bus, which had come to halt due to firing, they were killed by the Road Opening Party (ROP) of the CRPF," he said.
The attack took place at Frestbal Pampore, 14 kms from Srinagar, at around 4:30 PM.
“The two militants who attacked our vehicles were trying to enter inside the bus, our men prevented them and instead killed them,” said CRPF spokesman Bhavish Chaudhary.
The injured were rushed to the hospital where doctors declared five of them having been brought dead, while the condition of four of the 22 personnel was stated to be critical.
After the encounter was over, bodies of three more CRPF personnel were found on the back seats of the bus raising the death toll to eight.
The personnel belonged to 161 Bn CRPF and the bus (PB088AT-7914) was part of a convoy of six vehicles. The slain CRPF men have been identified as G Jaichandaran, Sanjay Kumar Singh, Vir Singh, driver Jagtar Singh, Santosh Sahu, Satish Chand, K K Yadav and cook Rajesh Kumar.
The identity of the killed militants wasn’t ascertained immediately.
According to some accounts, two more militants were involved in the attack but there was no official confirmation. The area has been sealed and message flashed about the possibility of two militants having fled the spot.
Traffic on the busy highway came to halt immediately after the attack as tension gripped the Pampore town. It was restored late Saturday evening.
The militants appeared to have carefully chosen the spot for the ambush as every vehicle has to slow down there because of a sharp curve on the road. Security agencies suspect a reconnaissance might have preceded the assault.
DIG South Kashmir Nitish Kumar told Greater Kashmir, “It was a brief but intense attack. It lasted for only a few minutes.” This is the third strike in three weeks targeting security personnel and the deadliest after the June 24, 2013, attack on Army personnel at Hyderpora in Srinagar in which nine army men were killed.
Director General of Police, K Rajendra, who visited the spot, said the two militants had been killed but "unfortunately we have suffered some casualties too."
Director General of CRPF, Durga Prasad, will visit the scene of encounter Sunday.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi tonight expressed pain over the death of eight CRPF personnel in a militant attack in Kashmir and saluted their courage.
"I salute the courage of the CRPF personnel martyred today in J&K. They served the nation with utmost dedication. Pained by their demise," he tweeted.
"My thoughts are with the families of those martyred today. May those injured recover soon," he said in another tweet. Home Minister Rajnath Singh expressed deep anguish over the killing of the CRPF personnel.
"My heart goes out to the families of the CRPF men who lost their lives in Pampore. I also pray for the speedy recovery of the injured," he said in a tweet.
This is the second attack on a bus carrying security personnel within three weeks. On June 3, militants fired at a bus carrying BSF personnel in Bijbehara, killing two of them. On June four, militants gunned down three policemen at general bus stand Anantnag. Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has strongly condemned the militant attack.
“The only purpose of such blood-spattered acts of violence is to add to the tragedies and miseries of the people and subvert the Government’s efforts aimed at bringing permanent peace and prosperity to Jammu and Kashmir,” the Chief Minister said in a statement.
Expressing solidarity with the bereaved families of the security personnel, Mehbooba prayed for early recovery of the injured. Governor N.N. Vohra has conveyed his grief on the killing of CRPF personnel in the attack. The Governor conveyed his sympathy to the families of those killed and wished early recovery to the injured personnel.
Deputy Chief Minister Dr Nirmal Singh has also condemned the militant. Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha and General Secretary AICC, Ghulam Nabi Azad, strongly condemned the attack.
“It is painful to learn about the death of our soldiers who are fighting a proxy war and had succeeded in creating an atmosphere in the State, as a result of which the tourists from across the world are visiting Kashmir, thereby contributing to the economy of the State. This terrorist attack at this juncture on our brave security forces should be condemned by one and all,” Azad said.
Militant outfit Lashkar-e-Toiba claimed the responsibility of Pampore attack saying that at least 12 troopers were killed while more than 20 force personnel were injured.
LeT spokesperson Dr Abdullah Ghaznavi, in a statement to news agency CNS, said that two LeT militants belonging to a Fidayeen squad attacked the CRPF bus on highway. “It was a successful attack and such type of attacks will continue in future as well,” he said.
The LeT spokesperson said that both the militants “responsible for the daring attack attained martyrdom.” The spokesperson paid rich tribute to these two slain militants and termed them as daring militants.