8 killed, 12 injured in militant attack ahead of PM’s J&K visit

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kashmirSRINAGAR, June 24;In an audacious attack on Army on the eve of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s two-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir, militants have killed eight soldiers and left 14 others wounded at Hyderpora, on the Jammu-Srinagar-Muzaffarabad Highway, on Monday.

Highly placed authoritative sources told The Hindu that eight soldiers died and eleven others sustained injuries when a group of heavily armed militants opened fire and lobbed grenades on a military convoy on way from Panta Chowk to Pattan at 1630 hours. Two of the targeted vehicles were extensively damaged. Later, the fleeing militants left a Central Reserve Police Force [CRPF] Sub Inspector injured in another attack near Barzulla.

The militants, sources said, attacked the convoy from an alley taking off towards a mosque near Classic Hospital. They are believed to have escaped towards Police Station Saddar through an interior locality on a motorcycle, followed by a Santro car. Even at Barzulla, close to Police Station Saddar, they attacked and left injured a CRPF personnel. Thereafter, they abandoned their wheeler, which was later seized by Police, and escaped in the car. Police sources said that the motorcycle had been snatched away from two youths, Saquib and Zaid Farooq, in Baghaat area. Both had reported to the Police.

While as none of the Jammu and Kashmir Police officials agreed to speak on record, responsible official sources confirmed the death of eight soldiers. They said that six of the critically injured were battling for life at Army’s Base Hospital.

Defence spokesman at headquarters 15 Corps, Naresh Vig, confirmed five fatal casualties and said that about 10 others had sustained injuries. He said that six of the injured were critical and three ‘extremely critical’.

Monday’s attack on the Army occurred amid the high security alert as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the UPA Chairperson, Sonia Gandhi, are reaching here on a two-day visit on June 25. On Saturday last, militants had gunned down two J&K Police personnel in uptown Hari Singh High Street. With the addition of another attack, as many as ten Army and Police personnel here died in the last three days.

On March 13 this year, five CRPF men and three fidayeen of Lashkar-e-Toiba had died in a fierce gunbattle at Bemina, not far away from Hyderpora, on the same highway.

Hizb claims responsibility

Local news agencies said that the Hizbul Mujahideen spokesman Baleeguddin called them by telephone to claim that the cadres of his outfit had attacked the Army and the CRPF in Srinagar.

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