The Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) militant outfit which was at the brink of extinction in 2013 seems to have regrouped after a group of its militants infiltrated from across the border in mid-2017. The outfit has launched some audacious fidayeen strikes and has boasted off carrying out an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) blast in Sopore on Saturday killing four policemen including an Assistant Sub Inspector.
Though many of its top commanders like Abu Ismail and Noor Trali—the main recruiter—were killed, but the JeM has launched some attacks leading to heavy causalities of forces. The outfit poses a serious threat to security, said an official. The recent attack was carried out on the on paramilitary Central Reserve Police force camp at Lethpora in Pulwama by two local fidayeen and one foreigner in which four CRPF men were killed in a 37-hour long gunfight.
In Sopore the IED went off outside a shop killing four policemen while they were on law and order duty at main chowk where several security installations remain deployed in half-a-kilometre distance. The intensity of the blast was so heavy that it damaged ten nearby shops. Such heavy blasts, according to sources, had stopped many years ago.
“These IED blasts had stopped in Valley some years ago. But the Sopore blast has set an alarm,” sources said. They said that the investigation was started to ascertain whether there was a hand of local or foreign militants behind the blast. “Militants seemed to have availed support of local operatives while planting the explosive device on the shop front,” said a police official.
After the attack, Additional Director General of Police (ADGP), Munir Ahmad Khan, rushed to the town to oversee the situation. Khan said the IED blasts had stopped in Kashmir and today’s attack was the first after 2015.
“Previously, such IED blasts would create huge damage, even killing civilians,” Khan said. The top police officer said that forces would sit together and think “how to deal with such a situation.” “We will chalk out a new strategy to tackle this problem,” Khan told reporters at Sopore.
He said that police will “verify the authenticity” of Jaish’s statement—taking responsibility for the blast. “We will have to verify the authenticity of Jaish’s statement. Just by their statement, it is not necessary that they carried this blast, we will have to see other aspects also,” he said.
Once a hotbed of militancy JeM’s chief operational commander Umer Khalid—one of the old surviving militants— was active in the area for a long time. He was killed in an encounter with forces on October 9 last year in Ladoora, Rafiabad—some 8 kilometres from Sopore town.
The town is a hub of resistance and militancy JeM has named one of its strike groups as Afzal Guru squad after 2001 parliament attack convict Mohammad Afzal Guru who was hanged in Tihar Jail in 2013. Guru hailed from Doabgah village of Sopore. The squad is responsible for many suicide attacks in Kashmir in 2017 including the attack on Panzgam Army Garrison in Kupwara, District Police Lines Pulwama, BSF camp at Humhama and CRPF camp at Lethpora in Pulwama.