SRINAGAR: In one of the deadliest attacks, suspected militants today afternoon gunned down three policemen guarding a minority community in south Kashmir and decamped with their weapons. Another cop was injured in the attack.

Police sources said the incident took place in Zainapora village of the restive Shopian district where a police post has been set up to guard a small community of Kashmiri Pandits living in the village.

Sources said the attack took place at around 2 pm when a group of suspected militants arrived in the area and fired indiscriminately at the police post, resulting in on spot death of three policemen while another was injured.

According to some reports, the militants initially barged into the police post and tried to snatch the weapons from the policemen. However, the resistance by cops sparked shooting, resulting in on spot death of three policemen. The report was however not confirmed by cops.

Witnesses and locals said the police post, where the attack took place, is barely 200 metres from the police station, an army camp and a paramilitary installation.

Soon after the sound of gunshots caused panic, a contingent of police and army arrived at the spot and searches were launched to nab the attackers. “The injured cop was rushed to a hospital where his condition is stable,” sources said.

A senior police officer confirmed the death of three cops, “The militants also managed to decamp with four rifles of policemen but we have launched a manhunt to nab them and recover the weapons,” the officer said.

The identity of the slain policemen was not immediately known. No militant outfit has claimed responsibility for the deadly attack which comes after security forces stepped up counter insurgency ops in this south Kashmir district.

Shopian has emerged as the new hub of militant activities in Kashmir Valley with maximum number of militants killed this year by forces belonging to this district. According to one estimate, of over 220 militants killed this year in Kashmir, close to 40 hailed from Shopian.

Militants have also targeted security personnel in this district at regular intervals. On September 30, a J&K Police constable, Saqib Mir, was killed when militant fired at Shopian police station. The attackers later managed to escape.

Earlier on September 21, three policemen, two of them special police officers, were kidnapped and killed hours later in Shopian. A fourth person, brother of a policeman, who was also abducted was, however, released.

On August 29, in one of the deadliest attacks on police in the state this year, militants shot dead four policemen in Shopian, hours after a top commander of the Hizbul Mujahedeen, Altaf Dar, and his associate, were gunned down in neighbouring Anantnag.

(Cover photo Basit Zargar)