Sniper attack by Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) militants has emerged as a new source of worry for security agencies in Kashmir valley with three personnel having been killed since mid-September, prompting the law enforcement agencies to re-calibrate their strategy to thwart such strikes by the group, officials said.
The first such attack took place at Newa in Pulwama on September 18 when a CRPF man was injured. Security officials thought it to be a one-off strike till the recent spate of sniper attacks that claimed the lives of a Sashastra Seema Bal jawan and an Army personnel in Tral, and a CISF officer in Nowgam.
Based on intelligence inputs, security agencies believe that at least two separate ‘buddy’ groups of the JeM comprising two militants each entered Kashmir valley in early September and have entrenched themselves in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district with the help of some overground supporters of the outfit.
In all the instances of sniper attacks, the militants used a nearby hillock to carry out strikes.”These attacks have been precise, even while targeting a personnel inside a sentry post as he uses his mobile phone. They pick up the light of the mobile phone to carry out the attack on soldiers,” said one of the officials.
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah has reacted to the rising cases of sniper attacks. “We’ve dealt with snipers on the border/LoC regularly and have SOPs to deal with those but never in the hinterland. This will force a rethink of all manner of security and protection procedures.”
The security agencies, including army, CRPF and Jammu and Kashmir police, have already issued fresh guidelines to their soldiers and officers located in camps in the militancy-hit areas.