Local fidayeen draw blood

The Aftermath: Villagers in Tral, south Kashmir, at the funeral of Fardeen Khanday, one of the militants who stormed the CRPF camp in Pulwama on Sunday night. (AFP)

Srinagar: Two of the three militants killed during Sunday's attack on a CRPF camp in Pulwama have turned out to be local youths, suggesting a new trend of Kashmiris enlisting as fidayeen (suicide attackers) that will worry the government.

Almost all the suicide attacks in Kashmir were carried out by Pakistanis. Of the thousands of Kashmiri insurgents slain in the past three decades, only half a dozen were fidayeen - and probably not very well trained ones.

None of them had ever successfully stormed a security forces camp and inflicted casualties, as happened on Sunday.

Fardeen Khanday, 16, Manzoor Baba, 22, and a third Jaish-e-Mohammed militant who is yet to be identified killed five CRPF men and injured three at the 185 Battalion headquarters in Lethpora village.

Police sources said any trend of local youths turning fidayeen would be a dangerous one. "They can mount such attacks in cities across the country. You can't even blame Pakistan for such attacks," a source said.

This is also the first time that fidayeen in Kashmir have, on the lines of global terrorists, released a "martyrdom video" shot moments before the attack, announcing their intentions and impending death and seeking fresh recruits.

Kashmiri militants have been using the social media to replenish their ranks but disquiet has been growing as more and more young rebels turn into sitting ducks during security operations. The latest video, released on Monday, seems aimed at addressing such concerns.

It shows Khanday, son of a policeman and a Class X dropout, saying that "atrocities" by the forces and not unemployment had driven him to the "dangerous path".

He salutes Afaq Ahmad Shah, a Class XII student and the Valley's only suicide bomber who rammed his car into the gates of the 15 Corps headquarters in Srinagar in 2000 but ended up as the lone casualty.

A large crowd joined the funerals of the two militants. Two of the five slain personnel, Sharief-ud-din Ganai and Tufail Ahmad, were local Kashmiris. Their funerals too attracted sizeable gatherings, mostly of relatives and neighbours.


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