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SRINAGAR

Resuming its attacks on telecommunication installations, suspected Lashkar-e-Islam (LeI) militants on Friday lobbed four grenades towards mobile outlets and towers in the heart of Srinagar leaving one person injured.

Sources and witnesses told Srinagar-based news agency that the first attack took place at Karan Nagar at around 11am when two militants barged inside the showroom of Aircel and directed the employees to move out. Witnesses said the militants, one of whom was carrying a pistol, lobbed a grenade inside the showroom which exploded with a bang. But, no one was injured or killed in the attack.

Minutes after the incident, the militants barged inside the showroom of Vodafone and reportedly scolded the outlet head for defying LeI’s directions of winding up telecom operations. In the meanwhile, witnesses said, one of the militants directed employees of Vodafone and few customers to leave the showroom and subsequently the militants lobbed another grenade. The grenade exploded with a big bang and militants fled from the scene.

Soon after the attacks, panic and fear spread in the area and many shopkeepers downed their shutters. In the meanwhile, the police and sleuths of its counter-insurgency wing reached the spot and stated massive searches to nab the attackers and to gather the information from eyewitnesses. It is pertinent to mention here that the office of Inspector General of Police (IGP) Kashmir and Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Srinagar is just few meters away from these showrooms.

The police, witnesses said, also conducted searches in the adjoining areas of Karan Nagar and laid checkpoints. Sources said that police also questioned few telecom employees but no one was formally arrested.

Hours after attacking Vodafone and Aircel showrooms, the suspected LeI militants attacked a BSNL mobile telecommunication tower at Shaheed Gunj locality, which is half-a-kilometer from Karan Nagar, in which one non-local painter was injured.

Sources told GNS that the militants lobbed a grenade towards the tower and it resulted in injuries to a painter identified as Muhammad Faiq who hails from Bihar. The injured was immediately rushed to SMHS hospital for treatment and his condition is stable. Large contingents of government forces arrived at the grenade spot and launched searches to nab the attackers.

In the fourth attack, militants targeted an Airtel tower at Wazir Bagh area of the city by lobbing a grenade. The tower is installed in the house of Abdul Rahim Wani and in the attack, his Alto Car bearing registration number JK01V – 7441 was damaged.

So far no militant outfit has claimed responsibility for the spate of attacks in city here but police sources point towards breakaway Hizbul Mujahideen faction, LeI, which in the past has owned the attacks on mobile towers and other telecom installations and had also threatened further attacks.

The fresh attacks have created panic among the people associated with telecom business. Interestingly, the attacks came a day after Hizb supreme commander, Syed Salahuddin, expelled its Sopore-based commander, Abdul Qayoom Najar for carrying out attacks on telecom installations, Hurriyat members and former militants and also for violating outfit’s constitution. Police say Najar heads LeI, which came into limelight after it carried attacks in Sopore on telecom installations.

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