Majid Jahangir, Tribune News Service
Srinagar, October 19. Suspected militants today fired at an Army convoy near a hotel on the outskirts of Srinagar city killing a hotel employee and injuring two others. “Initial investigations into the firing incident have shown that the militants had planned an attack on the highway. They did not succeed and tried to enter a nearby hotel. They opened indiscriminate firing, killing Farooq Ahmad, a bellboy, and injuring two others, Anees Ahmed and Bilal Ahmed,” a police spokesman said.
Police sources said at least three militants armed with assault rifles attacked an Army vehicle near Nowgam on the Parimpora-Panthachowk bypass at 4.30 pm in which the vehicle was damaged.
“No security man was injured. After carrying out the attack, the militants forced their way into the hotel premises and started shooting indiscriminately, killing the bellboy and injuring two others. After the firing, the militants fledthe hotel,” sources said.
Anees, who got a bullet embedded in his abdomen, was shifted to Sri Mahraja Hari Singh (SMHS) Hospital, where his condition is stated to be serious. Bilal Ahmed, who also had a bullet in his arm, was shifted to Bone and Joints hospital for treatment.
A hotel employee said the militants also fired at the reception counter. One report said the armed militants entered the hotel creating panic among the staff and guests. In the melee, the armed militants dragged the bellboy. Before fleeing, they shot him dead.
Initially, police thought that the militants had hid themselves inside the hotel and a search was launched. After almost two hours, the hotel was declared safe and the guests were allowed to move in. “Bullet marks were visible near the hotel reception. All the guests and employees of the hotel are safe,” said a hotel employee. “It was not an attack on the hotel. The militants took the hotel route to escape after attacking the Army convoy,” he added.
Inspector-General of Police (Kashmir) S M Sahai termed it a militant attack. When asked to clarify whether it was an attack on the hotel or the highway, he said it was too early to comment. “Nothing seemed to have been targeted by the militants in the hotel,” Sahai said.
Soon after the shootout, police along with paramilitary troopers launched a manhunt to nab the militants.
“The entire area has been cordoned off and search for the militants is on,” police said.
Militants had carried out an attack on CRPF at Rainawari in May-end in the heart of city in which seven CRPF personnel were injured.