Srinagar: Government forces sounded a high alert in Kashmir after intelligence inputs warned of possible IED attacks amid a surge in incidents of militancy. The warning has come right before the annual Amarnath Yatra is set to begin in the state.
Deputy Inspector General of Police, South Kashmir Range, Atul Kumar Goel, said that security agencies have received intelligence inputs that militants could pull off big IED blasts in Kashmir.
"In south Kashmir we always remain in a state of alert. There is, however, also a general alert that IED blasts may be carried out anytime," said Goel.
Security officials said that IED attacks could be carried out both ahead of the Amarnath Yatra or after the start of the annual pilgrimage. The yatra will commence from 1 July and continue up to 15 August for which security personnel are being deployed in strength along the Jammu-Srinagar highway that traverses through Anantnag and Pulwama districts as well as the base camps in Kashmir.
Weeks ahead of the Amarnath Yatra, number of militancy-related incidents have increased in both Anantnag and Pulwama. Ambush attacks by militants have also gone up after Ramzan, a month of fasting in Islamic calendar.
In the first few months after the 14 February militant attack on a convoy of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in Lethpora area of Pulwama, in which over 40 security personnel were killed, several militants had been killed during gun battles in their safe houses. However, now the patrolling parties of security forces are being ambushed. Militants have also managed to break through security cordons in Kashmir after roadside gun battles.
Earlier, the army said that they have killed 18 militants including 14 who belonged to Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) in over 20 days after the 14 February attack on CRPF convoy. The convoy attack was claimed by the JeM.
In the past one week, the army has suffered increased casualties with two of its personnel succumbing today after they were wounded in an IED blast at Arihal in Pulwama on Monday. Two civilians were also injured in the blast and are undergoing treatment along with four other army personnel.
A police spokesperson said that "one mobile patrol vehicle of the army suffered damages" in Pulwama while six army jawans sustained injuries in the blast.
"The car which was packed with the explosives had been lying in the middle of the road when militants detonated it with a remote control device. As the army vehicle reached near the car, the militants triggered the blast. The car turned into rubble after the blast and its splintered parts were laid strewn on the road. The militants managed to flee even though a cordon was laid in the area," a police official said.
Ahead of Monday's blast, militants spread a video on social networking sites giving details about making IEDs using a gas cylinder and chemicals in Kashmir. Goel, however, didn't confirm its authenticity.
Defence spokesperson, Colonel Rajesh Kalia, said, that the damage in Monday's IED blast was minimised "due to the alertness of the patrol party". He said that the attack was carried out by a "vehicle-based IED" while the army patrol was moving in the area in the evening.
"Two soldiers with severe contusions have succumbed to their injuries while undergoing treatment," he added.
Kalia said that one more army man died in a gunfire on Tuesday at Marahom in Anantnag in which two militants were also killed. He added that an army officer and one militant was also killed during the gun battle at Badura area of Anantnag on Monday.
On 12 June, five CRPF personnel and a station house officer (SHO) of police were killed after militants fired on a patrolling party in Anantnag.
Security officials said that local Kashmiri militants are receiving arms training from Pakistani militants. Besides the existing number of militants, who have been operating in large numbers in both southern and northern parts of Kashmir, a steady rise in recruitment of local boys is seen to be a concern by officials.
According to officials, the number of militants currently active in Kashmir is likely to be over 300, however more militants may have recently sneaked into the state from across the Line of Control (LoC). "The number of active militants varies from time to time, but it is around 300 as of now. The ratio of foreign and local militants is nearly equal," said Inspector General of CRPF, Ravideep Sahai.
He, however clarified that the "security grid to check the infiltration from across the LoC was very strong".
"Our anti-infiltration grid is very robust," he added. Goel said that a number of Pakistani militants have been killed alongside local Kashmiri youth who have taken up arms.