SRINAGAR: Curfew has been imposed in the hilly Kishtwar district of Jammu and Kashmir after a suspected militant attack left an RSS leader critically injured while his personal security guard was killed on Tuesday.

A senior police officer said the leader identified as Chandrakant Singh was injured when unknown gunmen, believed to be militants, opened fire at him.

Rashtriya Swayamasevak Sangh or RSS is the ideological fountainhead of the ruling BJP.

Reports said the incident took place at the district hospital Kishtwar. “Singh and his personal security were coming out of the hospital when the attack took place. While the guard succumbed to injuries during treatment, the condition is Singh is critical,” the police officer said.

Senior superintendent of police (SSP), Kishtwar, Shakti Kumar Pathak, said the gunmen, believed to be three in number, snatched the AK-47 rifle of the guard before escaping from the area.

Singh works in the state’s health department as a medical assistant and he was provided a security guard by the government due to high threat perception for his RSS association.

The police officer said it was a ‘targeted attack’ that injured Singh while killing his security guard.

Following the attack, dozens of supporters of the RSS leaders arrived at the hospital and started protesting against the attack. They also raised slogans, prompting the authorities to rush additional forces to the scene of attack.

“A search operation has been launched to nab the attackers. We are also examining the CCTV footage to get some clues about the attackers. Army has been called in to maintain law and order,” SSP Pathak said.

Fearing deterioration of law and order situation, officials said curfew has been imposed in the hilly Kishtwar town where Hindu-Muslim riots broke out in 2013, resulting in the killing of three persons while more than five dozen were wounded.

Although the communally sensitive district has not witnessed any sensational incident in three-decade old Kashmir militancy, it has lately come on the radar of security agencies. On November 1 last year, BJP state secretary Anil Parihar and his brother were shot dead by suspected militants in the hilly district.

The November killings came ahead of the Panchayat elections in J&K and triggered raging protests in the town following which authorities had imposed curfew and army was also called in to maintain law and order.

SSP Pathak claimed there are seven militants active in Kishtwar. “We have already issued their posters and announced rewards on them. They have been promoting militancy and are trying to encourage more youth to pick up arms. We are sure they have a role in this terror attack.”