SRINAGAR: A senior retired police officer, who had probed the 2009 Shopian 'rape and murder' case, was shot in Kulgam district Tuesday night and later succumbed to injuries at a hospital in Srinagar.

Bashir Ahmad Dar, a retired Deputy Superintendent of Police who was a probe officer in the special investigation team set up into the 2009 'rape and murder' of two young women from Shopian, was critically injured when unidentified, motorcycle-borne gunmen shot him in Ashmujee village of Kulgam Tuesday night.

The incident took place at about 12:30 am. Dar, who retired from active service in 2012, was coming out of the local mosque after offering late night prayers (Tarwih) on Shab-e-Qadar when the militants fired indiscriminately at him and fled from the spot, taking advantage of the darkness.

Dar sustained multiple gunshot injuries in the attack. Hearing the gunshots and the screams of the victim, a large crowd of locals and police gathered at the spot and Dar was shifted to Srinagar’s SMHS hospital for treatment.

“After battling for his life for a couple of hours, Dar succumbed to injuries at the hospital. He had received multiple shots in abdomen, legs and shoulder,” a senior police officer said.

Dar was targeted by unknown gunmen at the peak of 2010 unrest in Kashmir Valley, the officer said.

The deceased served at different positions in the Crime Branch, Vigilance and the Dy SP headquarters during his tenure.

The attack on the retired police officer came hours after a panch, Mohammad Yaqoob Malla, was shot at and injured by gunmen in the neighbouring Shopian district.

According to J&K Police, more than 35 young men from south Kashmir, most of them belonging to financially sound families, have joined Hizbul Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Toiba, two prominent groups operating in the Valley, over the last four months.

Unofficial figures put the number at over 70.

Led by Burhan Muzaffar Wani, who is the divisional commander of Hizbul Mujahideen for south Kashmir, the new-generation militants, who operate from the dense forest around Tral, have carried out a spate of attacks on armed forces.

Although the police has been trailing the militants for a long time, they have met little success in nabbing them.