A Pakistani terrorist was shot dead outside Dargah Hazratbal, Kashmir’s most revered shrine in Srinagar, on Thursday. Two other terrorists managed to escape, police said.
Police said it appears the three terrorists had come to snatch weapons from police guards deployed at the shrine even as an investigation is underway to look into all angles.
“We had information about some suspicious moment outside the shrine. We rushed a police team who found three men outside the shrine. When they were challenged, the terrorists opened fire. In the retaliatory fire one terrorist was killed,” said Rakesh Balwal, Senior Superintendent of Police, Srinagar.
“The killed terrorist has been identified as Manzoor alias Haider who is a Pakistani national. The killed terrorist was active in the Valley for long time,” he said.
The police officer said two other terrorists who appeared to be local recruits managed to escape because police exercised restraint given the sanctity of holy shrine.
This is for the first time in over 20 years that terrorists have managed to come this close to the Hazratbal shrine. In March 1996, security forces killed 22 terrorists who had occupied a building in the shrine premises.
Hazratbal shrine houses a sacred relic of Prophet Mohammad – separatists and terrorists have tried to capture the biggest religious centre in the past. In 1993, the shrine remained under siege for a long time after terrorists entered the Dargah Sharif.
Since then, police guards are deployed in and around the shrine.
Earlier in the day, two terrorists were killed during an operation by the security forces in Pulwama district.