Srinagar, April 13: Suspected militants killed two policemen in an attack at the ancestral residence of a National Conference leader in a south Kashmir village where he was busy meeting party workers.
Both militants were later killed in a gunfight in an adjoining village.
This was the first militant attack targeting a political leader in the Valley since electioneering kicked off last month.
The attack took place at Bapora-Khrew in the south Kashmir district of Pulwama. The constituency votes on April 24.
Shohda Brigade, a shadowy outfit of the Hizbul Mujahideen, has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Yawar Masoodi, 32, who is also a lawyer, is the son of sitting Jammu and Kashmir High Court judge Hasnain Masoodi.
National Conference sources said Yawar was camping in the area in connection with party-related activities and was busy meeting some workers. Spokesman Junaid Mattoo said two militants, hiding weapons inside a pheran, were stopped by police for frisking outside Yawar’s residence. “They (the militants) took out the weapons and fired, killing two policemen. They had intended to go inside but (the other) policemen bravely resisted their attempt,” he said. “They saved the lives of others, including Yawar sahab.”
Police sources said the militants escaped with a service rifle and a pistol. “We later received inputs that the militants escaped to adjoining Gotran village in Khrew. The area was cordoned off and a hunt was launched to nab them,” an official said.
A police spokesman said the militants were trapped in the village and both were killed in the encounter that followed.
“Two AK-47 rifles and the snatched SLR rifle were recovered from the encounter site. The identity of the slain militants is being ascertained,” the spokesman said.
The police identified the slain cops as head constable Abdul Hamid and constable Vinod Kumar.
Chief minister Omar Abdullah said the attack was evidence of the continued risk associated with being a mainstream politician in Kashmir. “You may not like our politics sometimes but don’t question our commitment because we put our lives on the line every day for our beliefs,” Omar tweeted.
Khrew is part of the Anantnag parliamentary constituency where sitting National Conference MP Mehboob Beg is pitted against People’s Democratic Party (PDP) president Mehbooba Mufti.
The attack came five days after trapped Lashkar-e-Tioba militants killed an army officer and two policemen after they launched a surprise counter-attack on the security forces who had launched an operation to nab them in a Kupwara village. The three militants were later killed.