Militants on Saturday opened fire on an army convoy on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway near Pampore, killing three troopers and injuring two. Sources said two bike-borne militants carried out the attack in the crowded Kadlabal area of Pampore, 14 km from here, around 3.15 pm. They said militants fired incessantly at the vehicles carrying the army men.
The militants, sources said, managed to escape from the spot taking advantage of the melee. Colonel Rajesh Kalia, PRO, Defence, confirmed the killing of the three soldiers. “We have launched a search operation (in the area),” he said.IG (Operations), CRPF, said, “We couldn’t fire openly as the place was crowded, but the terrorists were forced to run away.”A house-to-house search operation was conducted by the security forces, which went on till evening, a resident told DH over phone. Army convoys have been attacked several times along this stretch of the highway, barely 7 km from the Srinagar-based 15 Corps, which acts as a nerve centre to battle militancy in the Valley.Third incident in a year This was the third attack on the security forces’ convoy in the area in less than a year. In February, two army captains, as many CRPF men, a para commando and a civilian were killed, while at least a dozen CRPF personnel were injured after militants attacked a paramilitary convoy on the same stretch. On June 25, militants ambushed a CRPF convoy on the national highway in the same area, killing eight paramilitary personnel and injuring more than 20.A senior police officer, wishing anonymity, termed Saturday’s attack as a ‘major security lapse’ as it came amid a high state of alert, which had been sounded by intelligence agencies.”There were inputs that Hizbul Mujahideen’s recently formed highway squad was planning to carry out a major attack on the security forces’ convoy on the national highway, somewhere between Qazigund and Pampore,” he said. Meanwhile, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti has condemned the attack. Violence has never helped in the resolution of issues, but only compounded human miseries, she said in a statement.

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