SRINAGAR: Militants killed four policemen and an equal number of paramilitary troopers in a pre-dawn attack on a police complex with residential buildings in southern Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Saturday, triggering a gunfight that continued through the day.
Sources said two militants were gunned down but more could be holed up in a building the group stormed after getting into the guarded compound, 30km south of Srinagar.
A CRPF spokesperson in Srinagar said head constable Ravindra Baban Dhanawade of Maharashtra and constable Jaswant Singh of Haryana died from wounds.
The paramilitary men were assisting Jammu and Kashmir policemen after at least three gunmen entered the camp detonating grenades and firing automatic assault rifles.
The J&K policemen killed in the shootout were Imtiyaz Ahmad, Mohammad Yousuf Hajam, Rafiq Ahmad Hajam and Amarjeet Singh.
Director general of police SP Vaid said police and paramilitary troopers responded to the attack while a reinforcement of army soldiers encircled the camp.
All the families in the compound were evacuated and the militants had taken no hostages.
After the initial attack, the militants entered a building and they were cornered. The firing stopped towards evening and two special police officers (SPOs) trapped inside the house were found dead.
Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed claimed responsibility for the attack. The group’s spokesperson, Hasan Shah, told local news agency CNS about the raid and casualties.
As the fighting raged, hundreds of residents, mostly young men, hit the streets in Pulwama and chanted pro-militant slogans.
Government forces fired tear gas, resulting in clashes with protesters, who hurled back rocks at the troops. No one was immediately reported wounded in the clashes.
Mobile internet services were suspended temporarily in the district to prevent residents from organising anti-India protests as a tactic to help the militants escape.
In recent months, residents, sometimes entire villages, have increasingly hit the streets and thrown stones at soldiers when rebels are trapped in military cordons.
South Kashmir, the hub of the Valley’s new-age militancy, has been recording a spate of gunfights between security forces and militants.
Government forces have stepped up counter-insurgency operations since the start of the year and have killed at least 136 rebels, including most of the top commanders of rebel groups operating in the region.
In New Delhi, Union home minister Rajnath Singh reviewed the security situation in the state with national security adviser Ajit Doval, home secretary Rajiv Mehrishi and top bureaucrats.
Singh expressed his condolences to the families of the CRPF soldiers and Jammu and Kashmir policemen killed in the Pulwama attack. He wished the wounded men a speedy recovery.__Hindustan Times