JeM claims responsibility; Cops worried about ‘new hand’.
Srinagar: Four policemen were killed when militants detonated a remote-controlled improvised explosive device (IED) planted in the ground outside a closed shop in Sopore, a town 48 km northwest of summer capital Srinagar, on Saturday.
Jaish-e-Mohammed, a UN-designated terrorist group active mainly in Jammu and Kashmir, has claimed responsibility. It said that its “Shaheed Afzal Guru Squad” had carried out the attack.
Afzal Guru, the Parliament attack convict hanged to death in Delhi’s Tihar jail on February 9, 2013, was a resident of Doabgah suburb of Sopore.
Responding to the JeM claim, additional director general of police (ADGP) Munir Ahmad Khan said that the police is verifying the authenticity of the claim.
Mr Khan, while speaking to reporters at the wreath-laying ceremony for the fallen cops of the Indian Reserve Police (IRP) held at the district police lines, said that Saturday’s IED blast seemed to be the work of a “new hand” and security forces have to rethink their strategy in tackling the challenge. Elaborating, he said that this is the first time since 2015 that militants have used an IED to target security forces.
“The IED blasts had almost stopped. It seems there is a new hand who is an expert in this (IED planting). We will have to think about how to deal with it and chalk out a new strategy,” he said.
The deadly blast took place on a day when Sopore, which has Asia’s second-largest fruit mandi and is known as the “Apple Town”, was shut to commemorate the massacre of 57 residents allegedly by the BSF. In January 1993, BSF had, in reprisal to a sneak attack by militants, raided the centre of the town and allegedly shot civilians and torched properties. Sopore has been a hotbed of militancy.
Police said that security across the town and its neighbourhood had been beefed up ahead of one-day strike called by local traders and endorsed by an alliance of key separatist leaders called “Joint Resistance Leadership”. The militants detonated the remote-controlled IED when the policemen reached the scene while doing their rounds, the police officials said. The IED, which went off near a lane between Chotta Bazaar and Bada Bazaar of the town, was so powerful that it completely destroyed three shops, damaged three more and some other structures nearby. The slain policemen were ASI Irshad Ahmad and constables Ghulam Nabi, Parvaiz Ahmad and Mohammad Amin, all J&K residents.
Chief minister Mehbooba Mufti said that she was pained to hear about the death of cops. “Pained to hear that four policeman have been killed in an IED explosion in Sopore. My deepest condolences to their families,” she tweeted.
National Conference working president, Omar Abdullah, tweeted, “Very sad news from #Sopore. May the four brave J&K police personnel killed in the line of duty today rest in peace.”
This was second deadly attack carried out by JeM since one of its top commanders, Noor Muhammad Tantray alias Noor Trali, was killed on December 26.