Two policemen were shot in the Barzulla area of Srinagar on Friday, in the second attack in the city in the past three days. In two other incidents in the Valley, a Special Police Officer was killed and a Constable injured in Budgam of Central Kashmir, while three militants were killed in an encounter in Shopian, South Kashmir.
Director General, J&K Police, Dilbag Singh told The Indian Express that while there appeared to have been only one attacker in the Srinagar incident, they were looking at the possibility of a back-up, “to ensure his escape”.
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The policemen killed in the Srinagar attack were identified as Constable Mohammad Yousuf from Zurhama, Kupwara, and Constable Suhail Ahmad from Logripora, Aishmuqam. In Budgam, SPO Mohammad Altaf was killed and Constable Manzoor Ahmad was injured even as the militants managed to escape.
At a press conference held Friday, Kashmir IG Vijay Kumar said the three bike-borne assailants behind the February 17 attack in Srinagar — in which the son of the owner of Srinagar’s famous Krishna Dhaba, Aakash Mehra, was seriously injured — had been arrested.
The attack coincided with the visit of 24 foreign envoys to Kashmir, and the IG said the two were linked. “The LeT (Lashkar-e-Toiba), in its cowardly attempt to disrupt the peaceful atmosphere in the Valley, choose a soft target, a famous food outlet, and attacked its inmates to terrorise non-locals and disrupt tourist activity that has seen an upsurge in the past two months.”
Identifying the three alleged LeT men as Vilayat Aziz Mir, Suhail Ahmad Mir and Owais Manzoor Sofi, the police said they had confessed, and the weapon and motorcycle suspected to have been used in the attack, as well as a grenade and other “incriminating material”, had been seized.
IG Kumar said, “A civilian called the SP of the area and informed him about a suspect. After seeing the CCTV footage, the parents of the suspect called the police station and they have accepted that their son was involved in the attack.”
With the help of the parents and Anantnag and Pulwama police, the officer said, the phones of the militants were put under watch and they were traced. The police claimed investigations showed Vilayat was in contact with an active terrorist called Gazi, who trained him locally a month before.
Kumar said the LeT had adopted a new strategy and was “recruiting local youths who are in their teens and allowing them to live normally and training them for a day or so. They are given tasks by their masters and in case they get caught, public opinion is generated that they were not active militants and joined only on the day of the incident.”
Political leaders condemned the attack on the policemen on Friday, including National Conference vice-president Omar Abdullah and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti. “This cycle of violence serves no cause & begets only misery,” Mufti tweeted. Terming the attack “reprehensible” and “cowardly”, Omar noted that the two policemen were “unarmed & shot in the back”.
Sajad Lone’s People’s Conference said, “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of Suhail Ahmad and Mohd Yusuf.”
The Congress, BJP, CPM and Apni Party also condemned the attack.
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