Srinagar, Sept. 21: Three days before the second phase of polling, a suicide attack on a police housing colony at Bemina here capped a day of stepped-up violence that saw militants targeting political leaders and election campaigns.
The sentry was gunned down by the fidayeen as they raided the police camp late this evening. Firing indiscriminately, they rushed in and took shelter in the family quarters in a nearby block. “They are holed up inside the block where nearly 12 families reside,” said an officer. Troops have surrounded the colony and more forces are being rushed to support them.
Deputy inspector-general of police, Kashmir Range, Farooq Ahmad had a narrow escape when he tried to enter the colony, where the two militants are still holed up. As the DIG’s vehicle neared the block, the fidayeen hurled a grenade and sprayed bullets. Ahmad received a minor injury on his face and four bodyguards were hurt.
They were shifted to hospital, where the condition of one guard is said to be serious. Eight other policemen, including SDPO, Hazratbal, Shahid Rather were injured when they tried to enter the colony.
Police said efforts are on to evacuate the trapped families. “We have laid a tight cordon around the colony and our effort is to evacuate the families first. We are not allowing any movement in the area,” said.
The suicide attack took place after a gap of several months in the capital city, but came just before the Srinagar and Badgam districts go to polls on September 24, triggering panic. Srinagar is tense and paramilitary forces are checking all vehicles and pedestrians on roads leading to the colony.
Earlier in the day, two National Conference workers, Abdul Rehman Dekar and Ghulam Ahmad Parray, were shot dead in their houses in Anantnag and Badgam districts.
Tourism minister Sakina Yatoo survived an attempt on her life — second in the past 24 hours and fourth over the last month — when a mine blast destroyed her escort vehicle. One CRPF sub-inspector and a woman bystander were killed.
Militants hurled a grenade in the Awami League office at Qazigund in Anantnag this afternoon, injuring a civilian who was hospitalised. Eleven persons, including five Congress workers, were wounded in a grenade attack on three campaign vehicles near the Kokernag bus stand in south Kashmir.
Militants also lobbed a grenade inside the house of Congress candidate Mohammand Shafi Bandey at Shopian town in Pulwama district last night, but he escaped unhurt. Two CPM activists, Zahoor Ahmad and Abdul Dar were killed and another, Mohammad Ismail, was injured by militants in Kulagm area of Anantnag last night.