Srinagar: Militant outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba has claimed responsibility for the attack on the Central Reserve Police Force in which a sub-inspector was killed, two others and a civilian pedestrian were injured at Pantha Chowk along the Srinagar-Jammu highway, about 6 kilometres from the City centre Lal Chowk on Saturday.
A civilian pedestrian was also injured in the shooting, officials said.
In a statement to local news agency KNS, LeT spokesman Dr. Abdullah Ghaznavi said, “Mujahideen of Lashkar e-Taiba attacked the CRPF party at Pantha Chowk on Srinagar-Jammu highway."
Militants had opened fire at a stationary vehicle. After the attack, they ran into nearby Delhi Public School campus, which was encircled by the security forces to start operation to flush them out, the officials said.
While the security forces were readying for the operation, a policeman accidentally fired his weapon injuring a J&K policeman and a CRPF jawan, reports said.
“The search operation is going on,” the CRPF spokesman Rajesh Yadav said. The police sources here, however, said that the militants may have escaped as it took the security forces 30-35 minutes to lay dragnet around the campus.
The police and witnesses said that the militants fired their AK 47 assault rifles to target the vehicle carrying men from the CRPF’s 29 Battalion. After the attack, the militants ran into the nearby school campus. “Two gunmen are inside the main school building. An appeal has been made to them to surrender,” a police officer who spoke on condition of anonymity told this correspondent.
Vijay Kumar Dhar, the Pro Vice Chairman of the school, confirmed presence of two gunmen inside the school building. He, however, added all the school staff and students were safe as they had already left the campus.
The DPS (Srinagar) campus is located at a stone’s throw from the place where the attack took place and its management had earlier flashed messages to parents on their mobile phones saying “All students and staff are safe.”
However, on hearing about the incident many panicky parents had already headed for the school.
The traffic along the Srinagar-Pampore stretch of the highway was suspended and the police, CRPF and Army reinforcements laid siege to Pantha Chowk and its neighbourhood to start searches. “The operation is underway,” the CRPF spokesman said.
Witnesses said that the shooting incident led to a chaotic situation at the busy intersection and nearby marketplaces with people running towards what they considered were safer locations. The shop owners brought their shutters down and the people on board vehicles abandoned them and took shelter in side lanes.