Indian Kashmir militant attack kills policemen

Five parliamentary police officials died in an attack in the summer capital of Kashmir in India by militants disguised as cricketers.

The militants are said to have mixed with a group of children playing in an open field in the Bemina district of Srinagar, a senior police official on condition of anonymity told AFP.

“They first mixed up with the children playing cricket,” said the officer, and then pulled out guns from a cricket bag and started shooting along with throwing a hand grenade at a group of unarmed officers.

A spokesman from the Hizbul Mujahideen group called Baleeg-ud-Din called the Kashmir News Network (KNS), a news agency based in Srinagar to claim the attack.

“It was a guerilla attack and Hizb militants will carry on these attacks in the future,” KNS quoted the spokesman as saying.

Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah addressed the local assembly and confirmed the news that five CRPF officials had been killed and another five injured. “This was a suicide attack,” he said, according to AFP.

The Indian Home Secretary R.K. Singh has told reporters that there were more than two militants were involved in the attack and the shot gunmen looked to be “not local but across the border” in Pakistan.

The attack is said to be one of the deadliest since July 2008 when a land-mine killed nine soldiers on a bus on the outskirts of Srinagar, breaking the relative peace of almost 5 years. However, the region had been experiencing tension since February when Mohammed Afzal Guru, a local separatist convicted for the 2001 attacks on the Indian Parliamentary, was executed.

Separatists called a strike on Wednesday and a 24-year-old man taking part in a protest to demand the return of Guru’s body to Kashmir was shot dead by police in Srinagar, a source at the Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences hospital told AFP.

Violence in the region has its roots in the partition of the subcontinent in 1947 when the Hindu leader of Kashmir opted for his mostly Muslim subjects to join secular India instead of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The region is now split between the two countries along a UN-monitored line of control, but both sides claim it in full and have fought two wars over its control.

More than 47,000 people have died in the fighting by an official count while local rights groups estimate up to 70,000 have lost their lives. The last major militant attack in Srinagar was in January 2010 when two militants from another pro-Pakistan militant group opened fire in the city centre and took refuge in a hotel.

According to citizens tweeting currently, clashes between the youth and the police have begun again with “heavy stone pelting” in a few areas following today’s attacks and chances of a curfew being imposed are high.

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Main Image: Jesse Rapczak via Flickr.

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