4 CRPF men gunned down in Sopore
Militants decamp after looting weapons of the slain soldiers
Ahmed Ali Fayyaz
SRINAGAR, Dec 30: Spreading a fresh wave of terror in Sopore area after two years, militants today gunned down four Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel and made good their escape after looting the weapons of at least two of the slain soldiers. The broad daylight strike occurred in close vicinity of the Sector Headquarters of Rashtriya Rifles in Watlab area.
Informed sources in north Kashmir told Early Times that at least three militants, believed to be the cadres of Lashkar-e-Toiba, struck on a Road Opening Party of CRPF 177 Bn at Janwari Crossing, about 6 Km from Sopore on Sopore-Bandipore Road at 1430 hours. The ROP men were warming themselves with a roadside fire while providing protection to the main ROP from a sidelane some 250 ft away from the main road. According to eyewitnesses, a group of youngsters was playing cricket and the CRPF men were also enjoying it when they were caught unawares and at least three militants fired upon them almost in point blank range.
Sources said that two of the four targeted soldiers were hit in the head and both died on the spot. Two more of their colleagues sustained critical injuries and later succumbed to injuries at hospital. Those killed in the broad daylight strike were identified as Head Constables A K Upadhay and E P Prabhakar and Constables S S Dass and Kuldeep Singh.
Sources said that the militants, widely believed to be cadres of Lashkar-e-Toiba, attacked the CRPF party just 2 Km short of the Sector Headquarters of Rashtriya Rifles. They said that the militants escaped while looting away the AK-47 rifles of two of the slain soldiers. Troops from RR 22 Bn and Police/ CRPF conducted a search operation in the locality minutes after the shootout but failed to get any clue, other than an unclaimed Phiran, with regard to whereabouts of the militants.
SP Sopore, Abdul Waheed Shah, said that post mortem of the slain soldiers was conducted at Sub District Hospital Sopore and the dead bodies were dispatched for a CRPF formation at Humhama wherefrom these would be sent for cremation to respective residences after a wreath laying ceremony tomorrow.
Two years after striking fiercely in Sopore area, where their base had been dismantled almost completely in 2007-09 period, militants have surfaced again in the apple-rich belt in north Kashmir. The other day only, they had lobbed grenades towards the residence of MLA Sopore Haji Mohammad Ashraf and later caused an IED blast in the same locality at Dangarpora, not far away from today’s site of attack. Earlier this month, militants had attacked a CRPF party in Sopore town.