Terrorist strike in Srinagar city; policeman gunned down

Terrorists struck at the heart of Srinagar killing a policeman & injuring 7 others after taking hostage number of people in a run-down hotel.

Last Updated: Jan 06, 2010, 23:49 PM IST

Zeenews Bureau

Srinagar: Terrorists today struck at the
heart of Srinagar killing a policeman and injuring seven
others after taking hostage number of people in a run-down
hotel breaking almost two years of lull of militant violence
in the city.

Two men, believed to be Lashker-e-Taiba terrorists,
apparently planning to target a security establishment, lobbed
grenades and opened indiscriminate fire when they were caught
in a routine check near Pladdium chowk in Lal Chowk area.

The militants panicked, fired indiscriminately and rushed
towards a small eatery identified as "Punjab Hotel" on the
adjacent Court Road.

In the firing and lobbying of grenades by the militants,
police constable Mohammed Yusuf, who was driver of Station
House Officer of Maisuma, was killed while seven others
including a camera person of a New Delhi-based private TV news
channel were injured, they said.

Intermittent exchange of fire between the militants and
security forces was on as two militants were said to be holed
up inside the hotel. The police rescued nearly 100 people from
the adjoining area.

Though Jamiat-ul-Mujahideen claimed the responsibility
for the attack, Police said it was the handiwork of Lashker
terrorists only.

Director General of state Police Kuldeep Khoda told PTI
that the police had foiled a possible suicide-attack by the
Lashker militants.

The last major terror attack in the city took place on
October 11, 2007 at Dalgate area.

The attack comes barely a week after Khoda had recently
said there was a drop of 25 per cent in terrorist violence and
that no suicide attack had taken place during last two years.

About the possible targets of the suicide attackers, the
sources said it could have been the CRPF battalion
headquarters located near Amira Kadal bridge, High Court and
civil secretariat.

The security personnel have attempted to throw a
security ring around the hotel but the possibility of the
terrorists sneaking into the adjacent residential area, which
is heavily congested.

The sources said that an intelligence input was received
yesterday suggesting that Lashker terrorists were planning to
carry out a suicide attack in the city. Following the input,
the authorities sent messages on mobiles to public at large
and officials concerned asking them to be on alert.

Immediately after the attack, the people including
shopkeepers present in the area fled to safety in panic, while
traffic went off the roads.

The entire area wore a deserted look with reinforcements
rushing to the scene to tackle the situation arising out of
the first suicide attack in the valley in more than two years.

Militants had carried attacks on specified targets in
the outskirts of city which included an attack on pro-dialogue
separatist leader Fazl-haq Qureshi and recently attacking two
BSF personnel at Soura locality of the city on January two.

Jamiat-ul-Mujahideen (JUM) claimed responsibility for
the attack saying "it was aimed at sending a message that
militancy is not over in Kashmir".

A police officer said the final assault to neutralise
the two holed-up militants in a hotel would be launched only
after ensuring the safety of civilians.

"We want to ensure safety of civilians first before
launching any offensive against the militants," he said.

The entire area had been cordoned off and all measures
had been taken to prevent the escape of ultras under the cover
of darkness, the officer said.