SP’s PSO, civilian killed in militant attack in Sopore
First broad daylight fidayeen-type strike on a Police Station in 7 years
AHMED ALI FAYYAZ
SRINAGAR, Jan 15: In their first ever broad daylight attack on a Police Station in Jammu & Kashmir in more than last seven years, militants today left the Personal Security Officer (PSO) of Additional Superintendent of Police, Sopore, and a 20-year-old youth dead and four more injured. One of the critically wounded Police personnel was battling for life at a hospital late tonight. Militants’ audacious offensive against Police, in which the prime target and SP of Sopore had a narrow escape, has come after a series of attacks on CRPF and soft targets in the last two months in the apple-rich belt of North Kashmir.
Informed sources in North Kashmir told Early Times that unidentified militants lobbed a hand grenade towards Police Station at Sopore at 10.10 a.m. It exploded in the air, causing minor injuries to one Abdul Lateef Mirchal. Resident of Sopore, Mirchal had contested Assembly elections of 2008 but had lost to the National Conference candidate, Haji Mohammad Ashraf Ganai.
Even as the grenade attack caused panic and a high alert was sounded in the township, an unidentified militant emerged from an alley and fired bursts of AK-56 exactly when ASP Sopore, Abdul Waheed, had alighted from his vehicle and was entering the targeted Police Station at 11.15 a.m. SP Waheed had a narrow escape but four of his escort personnel and PSOs sustained injuries. Police could not retaliate due to a large number of civilians running for life. Eyewitnesses said that still a 20-year-old youth, working on a nearby PCO, also sustained critical injuries. He was later identified as Parvez Ahmed Bala S/o Ghulam Hassan Bala R/o Hajam Mohalla, Sopore.
Police personnel, who sustained injuries in the shootout, were identified as SP Sopore’s driver, Constable Ghulam Nabi Bhat of Bandipore, his PSO, Constable Nazir Ahmed of Kupwara, Constable Mohammad Amin of Takenwari, Srinagar and Constable Mohammad Shaban. They were all evacuated, alongwith the critically wounded civilian youth Parvez, examined at Sub District Hospital Sopore and quickly rushed to Srinagar.
One-odd militant, who carried out the daredevil action, vanished back into the locality.
Sources said that Constable Nazir succumbed to injuries en route to Srinagar and Parvez Ahmed breathed his last at SMHS Hospital.
SP Sopore, Abdul Waheed Shah, told Early Times that his driver, Ghulam Nabi, and Constable Mohammad Amin were under treatment at SKIMS and one more of his escort personnel was responding to treatment at Bone & Joint Hospital Barzullah. He said that Constable Amin had sustained critical injuries and he was battling for life at SKIMS after a surgical procedure. He said that three of the personnel hit in the attack were his PSOs and escort personnel and fourth one was a Constable posted at Police Station Sopore.
SP Sopore said that Police, CRPF 179 Bn, CRPF 117 Bn and troops of RR 22 Bn conducted a cordon-and-search operation in several localities in the apple town but did not get any clue with regard to whereabouts and identities of the militants involved in the attack.
Highly placed official sources added that Police and security forces have launched a manhunt for two Pakistani commanders of Lashkar-e-Toiba, namely Abdullah Yoni and Zubair, who had reportedly played key role in reviving militancy in Sopore area after a normality pause of nearly three years. According to these sources, there were estimated 20 to 25 militants, including 10 Pakisnai cadres, in Sopore area who had been setting up hideouts and encouraging many local youth to join the organization.
In the last two months, militants have carried out several attacks on Police, paramilitary forces and civilian targets, killing seven CRPF personnel and three civilians, in Sopore town and its outskirts.
Reports from Sopore said that a pall of gloom descended on the apple town when the young Parvez Bala’s dead body reached there and the funeral was performed with emotional scenes. Situation was more tragic in Kupwara as Constable Nazir Ahmed was the only earning hand in his family. He was the father of two sons and four daughters. Only one of his daughters, just 15-year-old was married four months ago.