News Column

5 Soldiers, 2 Militants Killed in Srinagar

March 13, 2013

At least five soldiers were killed Wednesday when suspected Muslim militants attacked a paramilitary camp in Srinagar, capital of India-administered Kashmir, officials said.

Two militants opened fire and lobbed grenades at the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) camp in the city's Bemina area, state Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said. They were killed and five soldiers were injured, he said.

A paramilitary officer was quoted by several media outlets as saying three militants might have been involved.

Security forces had cordoned off the area and were conducting searches there.

It was the first major rebel attack in Srinagar since Muslim militants raided a hotel in January 2010.

Senior police official Afad-ul-Mujtaba said the attackers mingled with boys playing cricket near the camp before launching the strike.

"They were carrying a sports kit in which they were carrying guns and grenades," he said. "They hurled grenades at the CRPF component."

Although militant attacks have declined recently, the Muslim-majority region has been tense since the February 9 hanging of a local man for plotting a 2001 attack on Parliament.

Many Kashmiris said Afzal Guru was innocent, and militant groups warned they would carry out attacks to avenge his execution.

No one had claimed responsibility for Wednesday's attack. Mujtaba said police suspected the militants belonged to the Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) group and were all foreigners or non-Kashmiris. The LeT is the biggest militant group operating in the insurgency-hit Himalayan region.

Kashmir, a region claimed by both India and Pakistan, has witnessed the deaths of more than 45,000 people - civilians, militants and security forces personnel - since a secessionist movement broke out in the late 1980s.

New Delhi accused Islamabad of aiding and abetting Kashmiri militants, a charge Pakistan denied. Islamabad said it supports the Kashmiris' legitimate aspirations for freedom.

Source: Copyright 2013 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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