Three civilians were killed and 30 others, including forces personnel, injured in a grenade attack at the cavalcade of senior PDP leader and state minister Naeem Akhtar in Tral on Thursday, reports and a top police official said.
A woman was among the three civilians killed, while the injured included 21 civilians, seven CRPF troopers and two local policemen in the grenade attack near the main bus stand in Tral in Pulwama district, news agency IANS reported.
Police identified two of the three slain civilians as Pinky Kour of Chattrogam and Ghulam Nabi Trag of Tral-e-Payeen.
Militants hurdled a grenade at Bus Stand Tral, resulting in “on the spot death of two innocent civilians and injuries to 30 others,” a police spokesman said.
“Three civilians were killed in the attack. We are investigating,” director general of police S.P. Vaid was quoted as saying by news agency AFP.
Vaid said all VIP cavalcades are targets of militants and that he had been wrongly quoted by a TV news channel as having said that the attack was aimed at the Minister.
The Hizbul Mujahideen militant outfit issued a statement condemning the attack and alleged that it was carried out by “Indian agencies” to create a wedge between the people and Hizb.
“We condemn this dastardly attack on civilians. This attack is the brainchild of Indian agencies which want to defame the Kashmir Freedom Movement. The attack was aimed to create a wedge between militants and the local population,” Hizb ‘Operational Spokesperson’ Burhanuddin told a local news agency over the phone.
When the injured were being shifted to the sub-district hospital in Tral town, a group of people gathered outside the hospital alleging that civilians had been injured in retaliatory firing by forces.
The police and Akhtar denied that forces fired pellets and bullets after the attack.
“No pellets were used by the security forces who exercised maximum restraint to ensure that civilian casualties do not occur. Yes, some warning shots were fired in the air to ensure that further attacks by the militants do not take place,” the police spokesman said.
Akhtar told reporters that forces had shown “great restraint” and he would never be able to avoid the pain with which he will have to live because innocent people were killed in the attack.
“This is neither in line with Islam nor humanity. How could anyone carry out the attack on the first day of the Muslim month of Muharrram when the entire Muslim world mourns the massacre of the innocent,” Akhtar said.
( Picture: Injured being treated at a hospital in Srinagar/ Zargar Zahoor)