Militants mistaken for cricket players kill five security staff in India

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

Delhi

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?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
musicOfficial chart could be moved to accommodate Friday international release day
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
News
i100
Sport
Italy celebrate scoring their second try
six nations
Sport
Glenn Murray celebrates scoring against West Ham
footballWest Ham 1 Crystal Palace 3
Arts and Entertainment
Drake continues to tease ahead of the release of his new album
music
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower