5 CRPF jawan martyred in Anantnag, 1 terrorist gunned down

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Anantnag: Motorcycle-borne militants gunned down five Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel in an audacious daylight attack on one of the busiest roads in south Kashmir’s Anantnag town on Wednesday — the first major terrorist strike since the killing of 40 soldiers by a suicide bomber in Pulwama in February that brought India and Pakistan to the brink of war.

The station house officer (SHO) of Anantnag, three CRPF personnel and a civilian woman were also injured in the attack that occurred on the bustling Khanbal Pahalgam (KP) Road that is also frequented by pilgrims on the Amarnath Yatra, which begins in roughly three weeks.

Police said two motorcycle-borne militants drove down KP Road and opened fire at 4.50pm at a contingent of CRPF personnel belonging to the 161 Battalion that was deployed at the spot. The CRPF personnel were on law-and-order duty and part of the Road Opening Party.

Additional forces led by Anantnag SHO Arshad Khan and a Quick Reaction Team (QRT) rushed to the spot, only to face a volley of bullets from the militants, who also hurled grenades at the forces. In the ensuing gunbattle, one militant was killed and he is believed to be a foreigner, said a CRPF spokesperson. An AK-47 rifle was recovered from the militant.

A health department official said on condition of anonymity that Khan, who suffered a gunshot wound in his chest, was in a critical condition. He and three paramilitary personnel are being treated at the army’s 92 Base hospital.

A police spokesman termed the strike as a “stand-off firing attack”.

“In this terror incident, five CRPF personnel were killed while repulsing the terror attack. Three security force personnel, including SHO Anantnag inspector Arshad Khan, sustained gunshot injuries. In the retaliatory action, the terrorist was gunned down on the spot. From the materials recovered, it is found that the dead terrorist was a foreigner,” the spokesperson added.

Minutes later, Al-Umar Mujahideen, a militant outfit led by Mushtaq Zager, who is currently based in Pakistan, claimed responsibility for the attack.

The CRPF personnel killed in the attack were identified as assistant sub-inspector (ASI) Ramesh Kumar of Jhajjar, Haryana; ASI Nirod Sarma of Nalbari, Assam; and constables Satendra Kumar of Uttar Pradesh’s Muzaffarnagar, Mahesh Kushwaha of Gazipur, UP, and Sandeep Yadav of Madhya Pradesh.

This is the first major strike on security forces since the February 14 suicide strike that killed 40 soldiers in what was the worst attack in Kashmir’s history. After the Pulwama strike — which occurred on a highway roughly 35km from the spot where Wednesday’s firing took place — the army and other forces tightened security across the Valley, especially in the militant hotbed of south Kashmir.

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