Monday, January 22, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Two blasts in valley kill 9
Bid to blow up NC headquarters

Tribune News Service
and agencies

JAMMU, Jan 21 — In escalated violence unleashed by militants in the valley, nine persons, including three security personnel and a woman, were killed in two blasts, while ultras made an abortive bid to blast the headquarters of the ruling National Conference in Jammu this morning.

Fiftyone persons were injured, some of them seriously, in the blasts at the Tapper and Pulwama chowk.

The toll went up when a constable injured in the Pulwama blast succumbed to his injuries in the hospital. Official sources said six persons, including two Army personnel and a woman, were killed when a Jammu and Kashmir State Road Transport Corporation (JKSRTC) bus hit a landmine near Tapper, about 30 km from Srinagar, on the Srinagar-Uri highway.

The sources said the bus, which had left Kawa checkpost in Baramula district at 9.30 a.m. for Srinagar, was hit by a landmine near Tapper, they said, adding that at least 12 security personnel had also boarded the bus near Kreeri.

Three passengers — Manzoor Ahmad Khan, Trilok Singh and Paramjeet Kaur — were killed on the spot and 35 others, including 10 security personnel, injured. One of the injured jawans later died on way to hospital while another soldier and a civilian succumbed to injuries in hospital.

The injured were admitted to hospitals where the condition of some of them is stated to be “very critical”.

Senior police and civil officials have rushed to the spot.

An abortive attempt was made to blow up the headquarters of the ruling National Conference, Sher-e-Kashmir Bhavan, on the fashionable Residency Road here today when unidentified militants planted an IED close to the building. In the explosion some windowpanes of the NC headquarters suffered partial damage.

More than eight buses, taxi cars and some private vehicles were partially damaged in the blast which took place at 7.20 a.m. The police rushed to the spot and collected the splinters. The IED had been planted in a drain behind a dustbin. Possibly, the explosion had a message for the National Conference leadership. The message may have been to desist from opposing further extension in the ceasefire and the APHC team’s visit to Pakistan.

According to the police, the IED blast near the National Conference headquarters was also aimed at shedding blood as in the morning hours a large number of passengers are present at the spot to board buses and taxi cars for their journey to different stations, including Srinagar.

At the time of the blast there were hardly 12 drivers and passengers who were standing some metres away from the blast spot and hence escaped being hurt. The police experts said the explosive device was not quite powerful and that was the reason that not much damage was caused in the area. Had it been a plastic bomb it could have wrecked several cars and the NC headquarters.

In view of the explosion police patrolling in crowded places, including bus stands and the railway station in Jammu, has been intensified.

An official spokesman said two persons were killed when militants hurled a hand grenade towards the security forces at the main Pulwama Chowk today.

The grenade, however, missed the intended target but exploded on the roadside, injuring 22 persons. Two of the injured — Farooq Ahmad Wagay and Abdul Rashid — later died on way to hospital, he said.

Six militants were killed and seven security personnel, including three Army officials were critically wounded in an encounter between the rebels and the security forces at the Kanachak border area, 20 km from Jammu, today.

The police said after receiving reports that a group of more than seven militants had sneaked from across the border and had taken shelter in a village in Kanachak the security forces cordoned off the area. The militants opened heavy fire in which seven security personnel were wounded.

In the joint operation launched by the police and the Army six militants were killed.

According to the police, these infiltrators were on their way to Jammu for disrupting the ensuing Republic Day function by carrying out gun and grenade attacks.

The Army authorities said that had not the information reached in time about the presence of militants the infiltrators would have reached Jammu city by this afternoon for kicking up subversive violence.

A spokesman said unidentified militants shot dead Hizbul surrendered militant Mumtaz Ganai at Kalaroos in Kupwara district late last night. His family members had been killed by the militants in the past, he said.

One Ghulam Nabi was shot at and critically wounded by militants at Mattan in South Kashmir last evening, he said. People at Nowpora took to the streets this morning to protest against the death of Muslim League leader Mushtaq Ahmad, allegedly in the custody of Jammu and Kashmir police special operations group (SOG) last evening.

The demonstrators pelted the passing vehicles with stones and were seen burning tyres on the road at Babdamb and Nowpora. They alleged Mushtaq was arrested by the SOG and later tortured to death. Meanwhile, the All-Party Hurriyat Conference has given a general strike call on Tuesday to protest against the alleged increase in custodial deaths in the valley.

The Jammu and Kashmir High Court Bar Association has also supported the bandh call and alleged that cases of custodial killings and fake encounter have increased after the Chief Minister directed the security forces to kill militants instead of filling the jails.

The Jammu and Kashmir Government Employees Action Committee has also strongly condemned the killing of a Forest Department driver and Muslim League leader allegedly in fake encounters. Meanwhile, militants attacked an Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) camp.

An official spokesman said the militants fired two rifle grenades towards the ITBP camp at Gazigund, some 80 km from Srinagar on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway around 8.45 a.m. However, no one was injured in the attack, he said. He said police pickets, set up to protect Kaloosa bridge and minority community members at Ratnipora in Baramula district, came under militant firing last night.

The police guards posted there fired back and repulsed the attacks, he said, adding that no one was hurt in the shootout. The Jammu and Kashmir Government has ordered an immediate relief of Rs 500 each to the victims of today’s landmine explosion at Pattan in Baramula district.

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