Security forces and militants continued to exchange fire in the heart of Srinagar till late on Monday night after a foiled attack on a CRPF camp left a trooper dead and a policeman critically injured.
CRPF trooper Mujahid Khan, a resident of Bihar and part of the 49 Battalion, was killed in the firing.
The Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) claimed responsibility for the attack.
As darkness enveloped the Karan Nagar area, loud explosions and the rattle of automatic gunfire could be heard intermittently, officials and residents said.
The site of the ongoing encounter is barely 300 metres from the SMHS Hospital from where Pakistani LeT militant Naveed Jhatt alias Abu Hunzullah escaped on February 6 after two policemen were killed.
Meanwhile, the LeT in a statement to a local agency on Monday lauded Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) militants for the attack on the Sunjuwan military station in Jammu on Saturday in which nine people were killed, including three militants.
Earlier in the day, local news agencies whom the militants generally send their statements to had mis-interpreted the LeT statement as a claim that Lashkar militants were involved in both attacks.
The militants, whom security forces claimed to be from the JeM, had launched a pre-dawn attack on the military station housing soldiers of the Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry’s 36th Brigade and their families on Saturday.
A soldier’s father and five military personnel were killed in the assault that continued till Sunday night, while about a dozen people were wounded.
Jaish, however has not officially claimed responsibility — many Kashmir watchers believe that the fact that majority of the soldiers killed were Kashmiris and the attackers also killed a civilian and fired upon a pregnant woman can be the reason.
Jaish had promptly claimed resposibility for the December 31 attack on a CRPF camp in Pulwama in which five soldiers were killed.
About encounter in Srinagar, a CRPF spokesperson said a guard at the Karan Nagar camp fired when he noticed two armed men walking towards the gates around 4am. “The duo ran towards the bylanes and fired at a search party from abandoned buildings nearby. The gunfight is on,” he said.
In New Delhi, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh held a high-level review meeting where he asked security forces posted in the J&K to emphasise on securing outer perimeters of army and paramilitary camps.
A home ministry official said the direction from the Home Minister came during the security review meetingwhich was also attended by Intelligence Bureau Director Rajiv Jain and Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba.
Mewanwhile, besieged by the back-to-back militant attacks and cross-border firing and shelling by the Pakistani army, chief minister Mehbooba Mufti called for a dialogue with the neighbouring nation for peace to return to the state.
“A dialogue with Pakistan is necessary if we are to end the bloodshed. I know I will be labelled anti-national by news anchors tonight but that doesn’t matter. The people of J&K are suffering. We have to talk because war is not an option,” she said in a series of tweets.
Courtesy: Hindustan Times