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Terror adds bar to hit list

Rajouri, Dec. 24: Picking out soft targets at will, militants have beheaded two relatives of a policeman and tried to spread panic by exploding a bomb outside a bar in this border town.

The attack on the bar — located at the same spot where a grenade went off yesterday — comes close on the heels of a chain of macabre murders that had echoes of the repressive measures the Taliban once enforced in Afghanistan.

Around 4 pm, a grenade burst outside a bar in the main market, triggering a stampede among afternoon shoppers and passers-by.

Ashok Kumar, the owner of Ashoka Bar in the congested market here, was at the counter when he saw a young man pluck a grenade from his bag and throw it at him. He ducked in time.

Stationery seller Vijay Badyal said the sustained attacks expose the militants’ plan to disturb peace and hurt the town’s economy. “Otherwise, why should there be so many attacks'” he asked.

Over the last few days, three girls were killed at Hasiyot village in Thanna Mandi, a middle-aged woman was murdered in Darhal, and a grenade was burst last night.

It was not immediately clear if there was a link between the bar bombing and what police say are militant threats to punish anyone defying Islamic laws, such as prohibition on alcohol and cigarettes and requirements for women to wear burqas.

The bar attack occurred hours after the father and brother of a Jammu and Kashmir police constable were beheaded at Khawas village in the hilly Buddhal area.

Rajouri senior superintendent of police P.R. Manhas said the “militants were trying to cause panic and terror. That is why they have unleashed this unending terror campaign in the district”.

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