Wednesday, May 21, 2003, Chandigarh, India

National Capital Region--Delhi


M A I N   N E W S

Ultras slit throats of 2
Bridge blasted, BSF jawan shot in Valley

Srinagar, May 20
A vital road communication link in north Kashmir was snapped when militants blasted a bridge in Bandipora while a BSF jawan and two women were among four persons killed in Jammu and Kashmir overnight.

A report from Baramula said militants last night triggered a powerful improvised explosive device (IED), destroying the bridge over Chanli nullah, which linked more than 20 villages to Bandipora.

Official sources said militants killed Meera and her daughter Fatima at Bandipora in north Kashmir late last night. They also killed Gulzar Ahmad at Tral in south Kashmir district of Pulwama.

However, PTI adds that the widow and her daughter were brutally killed by militants who raided their house in Aragam village of Baramula district in the wee hours, the sources said, adding that their throats were found slit with some sharp edged weapons.

They said the motive behind the killing was not known immediately.

Meanwhile, militants triggered an IED blast at Kulangam in Handwara, targeting a security vehicle. However, there was no report of any loss of life or damage to property, the sources said.

Life in Kupwara was paralysed due to a strike to protest against the arrest of a shopkeeper by the security forces. Shops and business establishments were closed and traffic was off the roads.

The demonstrators were demanding immediate release of the shopkeeper.

Meanwhile, militants shot at and critically wounded a BSF jawan at Hawal in downtown last evening. The injured jawan succumbed to his injuries at hospital.

The security forces scuttled an infiltration bid when they killed four militants in Machil Sector in north Kashmir early today.

Official sources said the security forces guarding the northern sector noticed a group of militants sneaking in from Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK). When challenged the militants opened fire.

The sources said the security forces also returned the fire and in the ensuing gunbattle four infiltrators were killed.

A large quantity of arms and ammunition were recovered from them.

JAMMU: Suspected Hizbul Mujahideen ultras attacked Bhaderwah police station in Doda district with grenades in the wee hours of Tuesday.

The police said the ultras fired at least four to six rifle grenades at the police station. The police personnel retaliated and opened fire on the ultras. Later, the ultras managed to escape under the cover of darkness.

Meanwhile, the phasing out of the BSF from counter-terrorism operations in Jammu and Kashmir has been deferred till December as the force sees the prospects of improvement in the situation in the state following the recent peace initiatives by India and Pakistan.

Stating that there was “no impact” of Pakistan’s “friendship” initiatives on the border, BSF Director-General Ajai Raj Sharma said although infiltration had not increased recently, several groups of militants are reported to be waiting on the Pakistani side.

He said terrorist violence, which continues in Jammu and Kashmir, was not up to the level as anticipated by the BSF and that the coming two months of summer would be crucial in determining the trend.

“Though terrorist attacks continue, some change in atmosphere is visible in Jammu and Kashmir” in view of the “healing touch” approach of the state government and the recent peace initiative of the Prime Minister Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, with Pakistan, the BSF chief said.

He, however, said the government’s plan to phase out BSF, expected to begin by the middle of this year, had been put on hold because the government might be wary of withdrawing a force deployed there for many years. UNI, PTI

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