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Militants attack cavalcade of Kashmir minister, 3 killed

IANS | Srinagar |

Three civilians were killed and 30 others, including security personnel, injured when militants hurled a grenade at the cavalcade of Jammu and Kashmir Minister Naeem Akhtar in Tral town on Thursday.

A woman was among the three civilians killed, while the injured included 21 civilians, seven CRPF troopers and two local policemen. The militants carried out the grenade attack near the main bus stand in Tral in Pulwama district.

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, Governor N.N. Vohra and Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti called up Roads and Buildings Minister Naeem Akhtar asking about his welfare in the aftermath of the attack.

State police chief S.P. Vaid who was earlier quoted as saying that PDP leader and cabinet minister Naeem Akhtar was the target, later denied having said so.

The police chief 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 Hizbul.

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 security forces.

The police and Akhtar have categorically denied that security 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,” police said.

Akhtar told reporters that 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.