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Valley cop killed in daylight strike

Srinagar, Dec. 2: A militant strike in broad daylight left a police officer dead and three men injured in central Kashmir’s Chadoora town today, renewing fears that the terrorists are spreading their tentacles in areas which have witnessed relative calm in recent years.

An officer said a police party came under attack by a lone AK47-wielding gunman at Chadoora in Budgam district, 15km from Srinagar, in the afternoon today.

The attack left station house officer (SHO) at Chadoora, Shabir Ahmad, dead. Colleagues Mohammad Shafi and Firdous Ahmad and a shopkeeper, Ghulam Mohammad, were injured.

Budgam has remained relatively peaceful in recent years and the attack betrays a strategy by the militants to spread their tentacles far and wide.

Most of the major attacks this year have taken place in and around Srinagar. The capital had remained reasonably peaceful in recent years. Jammu also witnessed a major Fidayeen strike in September which left nine army and police personnel dead and several injured.

Today’s attack took place when the town was bustling with activities, leaving shoppers and pedestrians scurrying for cover. The policemen were patrolling a market when they were attacked.

The police said the SHO took a volley of bullets in his chest and succumbed to the wounds later. The three injured are being treated at a hospital in Srinagar. The condition of the policemen is reportedly stable but the shopkeeper is critical.

“The gunman managed to escape. A manhunt was launched to nab him”, an officer said. The police suspect the gunman had one or more unarmed militants accompanying him.

Today’s attack is an addition to a spate of militant strikes this year that followed the execution of Afzal Guru on February 9. These attacks, along with heightened tensions on the borders this year, are seen as an attempt by Pakistan to stir more trouble ahead of the US drawdown from Afghanistan next year.

Militancy has been steadily declining over a last decade but there has been more militancy related violence this year compared to last year.