New Delhi: The three suspected Jaish-e-Mohammad offshoot militants, who attacked a police bus in Srinagar’s Zewan area Monday, killing two personnel and injuring 12 others, had planned to kill police personnel and loot weapons, police sources told ThePrint.
The men were armed with AK-47s and had conducted a recce prior to the attack to record the timings and movement of the Jammu and Kashmir Police team that had over 24 personnel, sources said.
“According to the information, intelligence inputs and intercepts with us, these men planned to stop the bus by firing at the tyres and making them flat and also killing the driver. They then planned to attack the police party and snatch their weapons, just like they did in Bandipora on 10 December in which two policemen were killed,” said a source.
“The supply of weapons to the terror groups in Kashmir has been affected. This is the reason that these militants are targeting policemen and snatching their weapons,” the source added.
The latest incident was the first major attack on security forces in the Valley since the Pulwama bombings in which 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were killed in February 2019. This was planned along the lines of the Pulwama attack, sources said.
The militants were shot in retaliatory fire but they escaped the site.
The driver was shot, but he kept driving the bus
The three militants — up to two of whom are suspected to be Pakistanis — laid an ambush in the area around 6 pm Monday, waiting for the police bus to approach.
According to the source quoted above, the militants aimed the first shot at the bus’ right tyre to flatten it, and then shot at the driver, who was identified as Constable Narinder.
Even though the constable started bleeding after he was fired at, he drove the bus inside the Zewan camp, which premises the J-K Police’s armed wing complex, the CRPF sector headquarters and Indo-Tibetan Border Police station headquarters.
“The moment he (driver) was shot he realised that it was a terror attack and he kept driving the bus, just to take it inside the secure premises of the camp. The three men were firing indiscriminately and tried to burst all the tyres, but the driver somehow managed to drag the bus, and take it inside the camp,” the source said.
Constable Narinder was seriously injured and is currently under treatment.
“When the bus reached inside the campus, the men fled. They had a car waiting for them,” the source said. “Since it was already dark and foggy, they managed to flee from the spot,” the source said.
Ghulam Hassan, an assistant sub inspector and Shafiq Ali, a constable, were the personnel killed in the attack.
Blood, flesh found on ground
According to the source, the police are yet to identify the three militants but suspect that they were from the Kashmir Tigers, an offshoot of Jaish-e-Mohammad.
“It is a signature move of the Jaish to attack a police party vehicle. This attack we suspect was to outdo the Lashkar presence in the area and also because they need weapons,” the source said. “We suspect that among the three was one Pakistani and two locals or two Pakistanis and one local. We are yet to ascertain their identities.”
Some blood and pieces of flesh of the militants have been found from the attack site, the source said.
“Since the police personnel inside the bus fired in retaliation, the militants were also injured and we have found their blood, some flesh from the spot which could help us ascertain their identity. We are not sure if they are listed terrorists or hybrid militants, but since they were armed with AK-47s, it was the job of a trained Pakistani operative,” the source said.
(Edited by Amit Upadhyaya)