Around 4.30 on Monday evening, a group of militants ambushed a cash van of the Jammu and Kashmir Bank in South Kashmir’s Kulgam district, killing five police personnel and two bank employees. The van was headed towards the bank’s district headquarters in Kulgam when it was waylaid in Pumbai. The Hizbul Mujahideen has since claimed responsibility for the attack on the “forces party”.

Four INSAS rifles were snatched from the policemen in the attack. According to reports in the Indian Express, the police said militants dragged the men out of the van before killing them. They are also investigating whether cash was looted. The assailants were all reportedly local militants.

The policemen who were killed include Assistant Sub-Inspector Bashir Ahmad Dar, Constable Farooq Ahmad, Constable Mohammad Qasim, Constable Mohammad Yousuf, Constable Ishfaq Ahmad. Javaid Ahmad Bhat and Muzaffar Ahmad, security guards with the Jammu and Kashmir Bank, also died in the attack.

The attack came a day after a civilian died in a grenade blast outside the Khanyar police station in Srinagar.

In recent months, South Kashmir has seen a spate of attacks on banks, especially in the southern districts of Shopian and Pulwama. Three days ago, a Central Reserve Police Force personnel was injured after gunmen attempted to rob a bank in Anantnag district, adjacent to Kulgam. According to security forces, one gunman was held while the other escaped.

In Pulwama district, NDTV reported, security had been beefed up after the series of attacks, with bank marshals to keep watch, and hooters, sirens and new CCTV cameras installed in bank branches. Security cover for cash vans had also been increased. Banks in all militancy-hit areas had been designated “sensitive” and “hyper sensitive”.

The inspector general of police, Kashhmir, Syed Javaid Mujtaba Gillani (right) and other senior police officials bear the coffins of slain colleagues during the wreath laying ceremony in Kulgam.
Bodies of the five slain policemen draped in the tricolour during the wreath-laying ceremony.