SRINAGAR: In the third such incident in less than a month, armed suspect looted a bank in south Kashmir's Pulwama district with the Jammu and Kashmir Police blaming the incidents on militants.

According to police sources, a masked gunman Thursday afternoon barged into a branch of Jammu and Kashmir Bank in Pulwama's Ratnipora village from where he allegedly looted cash.

The amount of cash looted from the bank was not known immediately as officials were yet to make formal estimates. A team of J&K Police and other forces have reached the bank and are investigating the incident.

The incident comes exactly a week after four unknown gunmen decamped with more than Rs. 8 lakh from a branch of J&K Bank in south Kashmir's Arihal. They also fired in the air before leaving the spot. No arrests have been made in the case.

The trend of looting banks is gaining ground in the turmoil-stricken Valley where three such incidents have been reported within a month.

The J&K police has linked one incident to demonetisation, saying the militant groups were facing cash crunch.

On November 21, a group of alleged Lashkar-e-Toiba over ground workers robbed a central Kashmir branch of the J&K Bank in Malpora village from where they looted at least Rs. 14 lakh.

Earlier, on October 28, four armed suspects barged into a branch of J&K Bank in Rohmu village of south Kashmir and robbed at least Rs 3 lakh from the vault.

After looting cash, the AK-47 wielding suspects resorted to indiscriminate aerial firing and fled in a private load carrier which was found abandoned in the adjoining village.

(Cover Photograph BASIT ZARGAR)