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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Bloodbath on highway in Pampore: 8 CRPF men killed, 21 injured

2 militants killed in retaliation, 2 believed to have escaped; LeT claims responsibility

Ahmed Ali Fayyaz

SRINAGAR, Jun 25: Exactly three years after killing 12 soldiers of Army in a dare-devil attack on the National Highway bypass at Hyderpora, in Srinagar, on June 24, 2013, militants of Lashkar-e-Tayyiba on Saturday struck in a big way on a CRPF convoy at Pampore. Two militants were killed in the retaliatory action but CRPF suffered substantial damage as eight of its men died and 21 others sustained injuries, three of them critically.

Director General of Police K. Rajendra Kumar told STATE TIMES that some militants appeared on the highway near a mosque at Frestbal in Pampore and fired indiscriminately from front of the convoy vehicles at around 4.40 pm. As the tyres of a bus got burst due to gunfire and it came to a halt, two militants attempted to enter it. CRPF retaliated valiantly killing both the militants on spot. Eight soldiers got killed and 21 injured. He said that all the injured were evacuated to hospital for treatment. Five of them were critical at Army’s 92 Base Hospital in Badami Bagh.

DGP, as also senior Police and CRPF officers, visited Pampore and stayed there for about one hour until all the injured were evacuated, a law and order situation was defused and traffic was restored on Srinagar-Jammu highway.

DG CRPF Durga Prasad, who was on a private visit in Ladakh today, would be flying from Leh to Srinagar on Sunday. Sources said he would interact with the living victims of the attack and senior Police and CRPF officials, attend a wreath-laying ceremony and review the security situation including the strategy to deal with the militant attacks on the convoys of security forces on the highway besides threat perception to the impending Amarnath Yatra, beginning in 10 days. Mr Prasad would also visit the spot of today’s attack in Pampore.

Sources in New Delhi said that the Union Home Secretary could also visit Srinagar on Sunday or Monday to take a review of the security scenario with J&K Police top brass, Army, paramilitary forces and Central intelligence agencies.

Earlier this year on February 20, two CRPF men and a civilian had got killed in a similar attack on a paramilitary convoy on the highway in front of EDI complex at Sempora, 2 Km short of Saturday’s spot in Pampore, that led to three-day-long gunbattle in which three soldiers of Army, including two Captains, got killed and all the three militants involved in the fidayeen attack were also killed.

On today’s audacious militant strike, IG CRPF Atul Karwal told STATE TIMES: “We have suffered damage and we will take appropriate retaliatory action”.

DIG CRPF Srinagar (South) Kamal Kant Sharma said that the small CRPF convoy of 161 battalion was returning to Srinagar from Letapora after a routine shooting practice in the evening when at least two militants appeared on the highway at Frestbal in Pampore town and opened indiscriminate fire. “Eight of our jawans have attained martyrdom and 20 are injured. Three or four of them are critical. They are under treatment at Army Hospital. Some of the injured have been shifted to SKIMS for treatment”, DIG said.

“We have killed two militants in retaliation. They appear to be Pakistani nationals”, DIG said but added that CRPF was looking into reports that two more militants had escaped in an Alto car towards Srinagar. “We are not sure about it but we are investigating”, he said. Earlier, reports said that the Alto used by the militants was hit by a bullet but it was driven fast towards Srinagar. Two militants thus escaped from the spot.

Under treatment at 92 Base Hospital, CRPF Sub Inspector P.K. Yadav narrated to STATE TIMES: “I had four vehicles in the small convoy. At Pampore, two terrorists attacked the second vehicle, which was my truck, from the front. Six of us sustained injuries in my vehicle. I was hit by a bullet but sustained only a minor injury. Thereafter, the terrorists directed a huge attack on the third vehicle which was a bus. Most of our men got killed and injured in that bus. The terrorists attempted to enter the bus but were shot dead in retaliation from our QRT which was a semi-BP Mazda in the rear”.

Yadav said that he was able to hide behind a seat but his associate Inspector Bansi Dhar was injured. He said that the ROP of 110 Bn was about 200 metres away and a contingent of J&K Police and Traffic Police at an equal distance. “They could not do anything as they were far away from the spot”, Yadav said.

According to official sources, eight soldiers killed in the militant strike included an officer and one Sub Inspector.

In Saturday’s issue, STATE TIMES had reported in detail that LeT was likely to carry out major attacks on Police and security forces in Central and South Kashmir particularly in and around Srinagar, on the highway.

Lashkar-e-Tayyiba spokesman Dr Abdullah Gaznavi said in a statement that in all two fidayeen of his group carried out the attack on CRPF convoy. He claimed that 13 soldiers were killed and 20 left injured. He said that both the militants involved in the attack were also killed on spot.


[Published in today’s STATE TIMES]

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