Srinagar: Probably for the first time in Kashmir, a militant outfit has claimed to have carried out a “sniper attack”. The Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) made the startling claim after the midnight attack in Pulwama on a camp housing Special Operations Group of Police and Central Reserve Police Force. A CRPF constable sustained a bullet injury in the attack, an injury that Jaish claimed was inflicted by its “sniper”.
The JeM is a Pakistan-based outfit led by Azhar Masood, who was released from a Jammu jail and swapped in return of the hijacked Air India fight in 1999. In a statement to a local news agency, JeM said it carried out the “sniper attack” at 12:35am Tuesday in Pulwama and killed two CRPF men.
The attack, Jaish said, was carried out to avenge the killing of “commander Ali and other martyrs”.
A senior police official, who said he was not authorised to speak to media, dismissed the sniper claim. He explained that snipers cannot be used during darkness in the dead of night. The militant outfit is “lying”, he said.
Another district-level police official said that the police do not have intelligence inputs about the use of snipers by any militant outfit.
The sniper rifle is a state-of-the-art weapon used for targeted assassinations from long distance. It is used by state as well as non-state actors in conflicts around the globe. The modern sniper rifle is a portable shoulder-fired weapon system with a choice between bolt-action or semi-automatic action, fitted with a telescopic sight for extreme accuracy and chambered for a high-ballistic performance centerfire cartridge, according to Wikipedia.
Last year, pictures circulated on social media of Kashmiri militants wielding American-made M4 carbine Colt assault rifles. The same rifle was later recovered from the possession of a slain Jaish commander, the nephew of Azhar Masood, in Pulwama. The rifle was believed to have been carried by militants from across the border.