Six Die in Militant Attack in Indian Kashmir

By Adeel Shah
150320-IN-KASHMIR-620 Security personnel stand around the body of a militant killed by Indian forces during an encounter at Raj Bagh police station in Kathua, Jammu and Kashmir, March 20, 2015.

Six people were killed during a Friday morning attack by militants in Kathua town, in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.

Two militants attacked the Raj Bagh police station in Kathua, near the Indo-Pak border, sparking a shootout with security forces, officials said.

Five people died in the shootout, including three security personnel and the two militants, who earlier had killed a civilian driver.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.

But locals are blaming several anti-Indian groups that are fighting for Kashmir's independence or merger with neighboring Pakistan.

This is the first major attack since the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) formed a coalition government in the state weeks ago.

“Two CRPF [Central Reserve Police Force] men, a policeman, and a civilian were killed in the operation,” Deputy Commissioner of Police in Kathua Shahid Iqbal told BenarNews.

“When the attack took place, six policemen were present inside the police station. The militants were dressed in army uniforms.”

The police station also houses a CRPF unit, Iqbal said.

“Militants first killed the police constable who was posted outside the police station, and then two CRPF personnel,” he said, adding that 11 people were wounded in the attack.

According to police, the militants hijacked a jeep from the highway, killed its driver and then stormed the police post.

The state’s police chief, K. Rajendra, told BenarNews that the encounter ended in Friday afternoon.

“Our forces eliminated the two militants,” he said. “After the encounter ended, the security forces carried out a search operation as well."

Demanding an explanation

Friday’s militant attack was also raised in the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly, with the opposition parties seeking an explanation from the government about the incident.  

Devender Rana, of the opposition National Conference, asked the government how the attack was allowed to happen.

Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh gave details and answered questions, but members of opposition parties said they were unsatisfied.

Former J&K Chief Minister Omar Abdullah also expressed outrage about the attack.

“These Fidayeen will have walked across the border last night & launched their attack this morning which is the past pattern as well,” he tweeted. “My thoughts are with those brave security personnel dealing with the Fidayeen attack in Kathua town of Jammu this morning.”

Recent violence

Kathua district has seen similar attacks in the past two years.

Last March, militants opened fire on a vehicle, killing a person and injuring three others in Dayalachak. In 2013, three militants attacked a police station and then stormed an army camp in nearby Samba town, leaving 10 people dead.

Kashmir has been in conflict for decades, with a violent insurgency erupting in 1989 and leading to a crackdown by Indian forces. An estimated 68,000 people have died in the conflict.

Public resentment against Indian rule remains deep and the resistance is now principally expressed through street protests, the Associated Press reported.


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