Srinagar: Unidentified gunmen, believed to be three or four in number, opened fire at an army convoy in Bemina area near Sher-e-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences (SKIMS) on Saturday afternoon, wounding three soldiers.
Eyewitnesses said that the gunmen were all wearing the traditional Kashmiri outfit pheran and carried rifles, with which they fired several rounds at the last vehicle in the army convoy at about 1pm.
A bullet hit the tyre of the vehicle that came under attack wasn’t able to move ahead. The gunmen showered it with bullets which wounded three soldiers who were aboard the vehicle. The gunmen then escaped from the spot.
The firing created panic in the entire area, especially in the nearby SKIMS hospital, where people were seen rushing to secure zones for safety. “We couldn’t see the exact number of militants as we rushed to inside the hospital as soon as we heard gun shots. A few seconds later, we saw three to four men, one of whom who was still firing shots at the army vehicle, fleeing from the spot,” a group of eyewitnesses told Kashmir Reader.
Army soldiers started a combing operation in the area and searched many residential houses in Bemina.
“They were looking for militants who they believed had taken shelter in residential houses. But they found nothing here,” residents of Bemina whose houses were searched said.
Street clashes occurred later in the area between youths and government troops when people came out in protest against the search operation being carried out by the soldiers. Youths pelted the troops with stones and bricks. The troops fired many teargas shells to disperse the stone-throwing youths. Stone-pelting was still going on when this report was filed in the late evening.
Colonel Rajesh Kalia, Srinagar-based defence spokesman, told Kashmir Reader that an army convoy which was coming from Baramulla to Srinagar came under attack at Bemina and three soldiers suffered bullet injuries. He said that the wounded soldiers were evacuated to 92 Base Hospital in Srinagar.
“As the area where the attack took place is highly crowded, the soldiers showed maximum restraint to avoid any collateral damage,” Kalia said. An army official said that the condition of the injured soldiers is stable.
Hizbul Mujhadeen claimed it carried out the attack on the convoy. Its spokesman Burhanuddin told news agency CNS that “at least 6 Indian soldiers were killed in the attack”.
“The young men of Hizbul Mujhadeen will strike at any time, any place across Jammu and Kashmir in coming days,” he said.