SRINAGAR: The police and the intelligence network in Jammu and Kashmir suspect that a few highly skilled militant snipers could be active in the Valley after an Army man and two paramilitary personnel were killed in long-range stealth attacks this week, a media report said on Sunday.
“Militant snipers who can hide at a single spot undetected for a long time and withdraw after making a kill could also pose a high threat to VIPs in the valley,” NDTV quoted sources as saying.
According to the NDTV report on Saturday, an assistant sub-inspector of the CISF, Rajendra Prasad, was killed by what the security forces say a “sniper-type” attack on the outskirts of Srinagar. A paramilitary soldier was killed in another suspected sniper attack on October 22, and an Army soldier was killed three days later in a long-range gun attack at Tral.
The NDTV quoted people with direct knowledge of the matter saying the militants could be using advanced night-vision glasses (NVG) to hide in the dark and snipe at security forces from a distance. This type of sniper attack allows them to run away the moment security forces start looking for them.
A senior police officer told NDTV that they are not ruling out the possibility of militants using American M6 rifles in these attacks. “Militants could be mounting NVGs on these rifles to carry out attacks at night,” said the officer, who asked not to be identified.
“The Inspector General of Police has also written to the police headquarters to draw their attention to the threat from snipers. Though all VIP vehicles are armoured and well protected, countering the threat of snipers is a challenge,” NDTV quoted sources said.
Another report published by the Indian Express said Prasad was shot in the face around 1 am, while guarding a power grid station, and succumbed to his injuries. It said the Kashmir IGP S P Pani has expressed concern over militants resorting to sniper attacks to target the forces, and suggested safety measures like raising the height of walls around camps.
“In the last few days, terrorists have carried out two sniper attacks in SKR (South Kashmir Region),” Pani’s letter, accessed by the newspaper said. There have been similar attacks earlier: on October 18 two CRPF men were injured when Newa camp under attack; On October 21, at Midoora (Tral), an SSB jawan was killed and on October 25 at Lurgam (Tral) an Army man was killed and another injured in a suspected sniper attack.
The SSB jawan, according to the newspaper, was “talking with his family on a cell-phone inside his camp when he was hit in the head”. In fact, the newspaper said, the October 18 and October 25 attacks, were mounted in dark and “the personnel who were hit were on night duty at sentry posts.”
“The Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) has claimed responsibility for the attack on Prasad, as well as the other two deaths in South Kashmir,” the newspaper said. “Police sources say at least four more attacks in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district this month may be from sniper fire.”
“Every killing is being investigated… which weapon has been used,” the newspaper quoted ADGP, Law and Order, Munir Ahmad Khan, saying. “We have no confirmation as of now.”
However, the newspaper quoted Pani’s letter that reads: “We need to sensitize our men in this new trend of terrorist attacks. Secondly, we should deny the snipers a clear line of sight by increasing the height of the walls around our camping locations. Further location of sentry posts and their design may also be given due attention, to avoid getting hit by a sniper bullet… We also need to organise regular patrolling in the vicinity of our camps so that potential snipers could be denied space and access to carry out sniper attacks.”
The newspaper said if it was confirmed that militants carry snipers, they would “review” the “security of high-value targets such as senior politicians, bureaucrats and officials.”