Militants mistaken for cricket players kill five security staff in India

Attackers carried sporting kit bags before taking out weapons and opening fire


At least five members of the Indian security forces were killed today when militants attacked a base in Kashmir. Details are still emerging but Indian media said the gunmen had dressed in sports clothes and mingled with students playing cricket before setting down their kit bags, taking out weapons and opening fire.

The attack – the first of its kind for three years - happened at a base located alongside a school in a neighbourhood on the edge Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir. Five other security personnel were injured, as were several civilians. Two militants were killed. Others may have escaped and a search operation was ongoing.

The state’s chief minister, Omar Abdullah, confirmed on the floor of the state assembly that five paramilitary personnel from the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) had been killed in what he described as a “suicide attack”.

“A division of the CRPF was deployed at a camp here and children were playing cricket in the field when two militants fired grenades and attacked our division,” senior police officer, Abdul Gani Mir, told reporters, according to the Press Trust of India. “We have lost five of our CRPF personnel who gunned down the two militants.”

Anywhere up to 70,000 people lost their lives as a result of a separatist insurgency that took hold in the disputed Kashmir region in the late 1980s and the resulting operation by security forces.

In recent years the attacks have fallen off and Kashmir has again seen tourists from India and overseas return in record numbers. Today’s attack was the first on a security base since January 2010.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but suspicion will likely fall on the Pakistan-based militant group Laskhar-e-Taiba, the banned outfit blamed for the 2008 attacks in Mumbai. India’s federal home secretary RK Singh also said that the militants appeared to be from Pakistan but gave no further details.

While it is estimated anywhere up to 150 active militants from Pakistan-based groups remain in Kashmir, the strength of the security forces stands at around 600,000 – a level of militarisation that many Kashmiris liken to living under an “occupation”.

In an interview last month, Mr Abdullah, the chief minister, said the level of militancy stood at “less then five per cent of what is was in 2002”. He added: “It’s a significant decrease in levels of violence. Every year we have a 40 per cent decline.”

He attributed this to several factors – international pressure on Pakistan, development projects and an improved fence along the de facto border between India and Pakistan.

Yet in recent weeks tension has returned to valley following the execution in Delhi of Afzal Guru, a Kashmiri man convicted over the 2001 attack on India’s parliament. Following the hanging, which was carried out in secret and without Mr Guru’s family being informed in advance, a curfew was imposed in many parts of the Kashmir valley in anticipation of violence protests.

The attack on the paramilitary forces base in the Bemina neighbourhood of Srinagar came as a debate continues within India about whether the government should revoke legislation that gives special powers to troops on duty there. Critics say the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) gives effective immunity to soldiers, while the armed forces say the measures are essential to protect soldiers from malicious claims or legal actions.

The chief minister’s father, Farooq Abdullah, a minister with the federal government, said despite the attack, it was essential that the AFSPA was removed. “We have been saying the special powers act is needed only at borders. This is a part of the game we have to play, our enemies will continue to do this. I have seen worst than this, we will face them. [It] will have to go,” he said.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Sheridan Maine: Finance Analyst

Circa £45,000-£50,000 + benefits: Sheridan Maine: Are you a newly qualified ac...

Sheridan Maine: Accounts Assistant

£12 - £15 Hourly Rate: Sheridan Maine: Are you an experienced Accounts Assista...

Sheridan Maine: Financial Accountant

£150 - £190 Daily Rate: Sheridan Maine: One of London's leading water supplier...

Sheridan Maine: Portfolio Accountant

£30,000 - £35,000 Annual: Sheridan Maine: Are you a Management Accountant with...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor