Srinagar: Srinagar has been turned into a fortress for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit, a day after a brazen attack by Hizbul Mujahideen terrorists, ambushing an Army convoy killing eight jawans. The major security breach happened on Monday, a day before Prime Minister's scheduled two-day visit along with UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi to the valley.
The PM's office had informed that the Prime Minister will still go ahead with the meeting. "The Prime Minister had condemned the attack in Kashmir," a statement issued by the PMO said. "This cowardly attack will not deter the security forces who are engaged in bringing peace and order to the Kashmir valley," PM said. Singh and Sonia will also launch train service on a railway section between Qazigund in Kashmir and Banihal in Jammu region that will provide an all-weather link to the Valley.
On Monday, terrorists opened fire on an Army convoy at Hyderpora bypass on the Airport-Lal Chowk road, outside a private hospital with the terrorists firing from both sides of the road. According to an Army spokesperson the bodies of the dead soldiers were taken to Badami Bagh cantonment. Eight Army jawans were killed and 19 others have been injured in the attack.
CRPF IG Nalin Prabhat said at least two terrorists fired at the Army convoy. "Army vehicles coming from the side of Pant Chowk and going towards Baramulla bypass have been fired upon by a couple of terrorists. They apparently have pumped in a number of bullets in the vehicle," said Prabhat.
Army troops along with police and CRPF immediately cordoned off the whole area and launched a manhunt to nab the militants, officials said. They said after initial heavy firing, gunshots continued for a few minutes but there were no reports of further casualties in the area.
An Army helicopter was also used to locate the terrorists, but the attackers took advantage of the small and congested alleys and fled from the area.
However, half-an-hour later, firing was reported in Barzulla area, two kilometers away from Hyderpora on Airport-Lal Chowk road. While 12 soldiers were injured in the ambush, another two sustained bullet wounds in a second strike. The terrorists fled on a motorcycle towards Barzulla check post where they hurled a grenade on the CRPF and police party manning the post.
In the ensuing gunbattle, CRPF Sub-Inspector Lala Ram was critically injured, while a policeman also sustained injuries. "One CRPF personnel has been injured in the militant firing near out Rambagh camp," Inspector General of CRPF YS Yadav said. The terrorists, believed to be two in number, then escaped in a waiting black Santro car, police said.
Claiming responsibility for the attack, a person identifying himself as Hizbul Mujahideen spokesperson Baliguddin called up a local news agency and said that Hizbul Mujahideen has formed several squads and similar attacks will be carried out in the city in the future as well.
The attack took place two days after two policemen were gunned down by Hizbul terrorists in Lal Chowk area of Srinagar.
With Additional Inputs from PTI