Attack came on 25th anniversary and at site of the Sopore massacre
Sopore: Marking the return of IED attacks in Kashmir after three years, a powerful improvised explosive device (IED) blast killed four policemen in Sopore town amid a shutdown on the 25th anniversary of the Sopore massacre. The blast took place in the very town square where on January 6, 1993, more than 55 people were killed by the BSF (Border Security Force) in retaliation to a militant attack.
Witnesses said the powerful blast near Gole Market ruptured bodies of the slain policemen, destroyed five shops, and partially damaged three other shops.
The IED went off at about 10am, when people were mostly indoors because of a shutdown called by the joint resistance leadership (JRL), and a huge deployment of government forces had been made in Sopore town to keep watch.
Militant outfit Jaish-e-Muhammad claimed responsibility of the attack. In a statement issued to news agency GNS, the Jaish spokesperson said its “Shaheed Afzal Guru squad” carried out the attack.
The killed policemen have been identified as ASI Irshad Ahmad Sheikh (ARP825685) of Chanoth Doda, Constable Mohd Amin (ARP106522) of Sogam Kupwara, Constable Ghulam Nabi Ahangar (ARP066093) of Rohama Sopore, and Constable Parwaiz Ahmad (ARP106059) of Dolipora, Handwara.
A senior police official in Sopore said the attack seemed to be a planned operation because of the expected deployment of police on the Sopore massacre anniversary. The deployment of police had taken place at 9am, an hour before the blast.
After the blast, the government forces sealed entry and exit points of the town to nab the attackers. The town remained shut the entire day as people preferred to stay indoors after waking up to the huge bang.
Inspector General of Police Kashmir, Munir Khan, who rushed to the town immediately, told media persons that it was after three years that an IED attack had been carried out in Kashmir.
“There is no doubt that Jaish is coming to the forefront in attacks in Kashmir. It is only because government forces have already been successful in killing the top commanders of LeT (Lashkar-e-Toiba) and Hizb (ul-Mujahideen),” Khan said.
“The northern part of Kashmir is under control of police but there are militants in Kashmir and we cannot deny it. Attacks will happen and after this IED attack in Sopore, in which our four jawans have been martyred, we will put our heads together to decide how to tackle this manner of attack,” Khan said.
Later in the day, Khan led a wreath-laying ceremony for the slain policemen at the District Police Lines Sopore. The ADGP Armed Police, SA Mujtaba, the SSP Baramulla, the SSP Sopore, the CO of army’s 22RR and the CO of paramilitary 179 CRPF also paid tributes to the slain policemen.
Meanwhile, programmes planned by the town’s traders’ federation, civil society and other organisations to mark the 25th anniversary of Sopore massacre were cancelled in the wake of the IED attack. Shops and business establishments remained closed and traffic stayed off the roads.