Militant group Hizbul Mujahideen on Wednesday claimed responsibility for the attack at a hospital in Srinagar, during which a prisoner opened fire at policemen and escaped. Riyaz Naikoo, the commander of Hizbul Mujahideen, released an eight-minute audio clip in which he said his men raided Shri Maharaja Hari Singh Hospital to free Mohammad Naveed Jat.
Jat had now reached South Kashmir safely, Naikoo said, according to the Hindustan Times. Jat is a close associate of Lashkar-e-Taiba chief Abu Qasim.
Two policemen were killed in Tuesday’s attack. Naikoo said his gunmen were “forced to kill Kashmiris [policemen] to free their Pakistani brother”. “When we saw the children of the two policemen, we were heartbroken because we don’t want to kill any Kashmiri, but people who are aligning with India are forcing us to kill them,” he added.
“We love and hate for the sake of Allah,” Naikoo said, according to Kashmir Reader. “We don’t have any personal hatred against policemen.”
Jat, alias Abu Hanzula, is from the Punjab province of Pakistan, and was arrested from Kulgam in 2014. He was among the six prisoners who were brought to the hospital on Tuesday for treatment, when he escaped. The police are investigating the incident, and are also looking into the angle of an internal hand, a top police official told The New Indian Express.
It is not yet clear how many militants were involved in the attack. Police sources told The Indian Express that more than two were involved, with accomplices, to help Jat escape.
Coordination among outfits
Meanwhile, in a message on WhatsApp to local media, Lashkar-e-Taiba spokesperson Abdullah Ghazanwi said, “The incident was an outcome of close coordination and cooperation among various Mujahideen organisations.”
Hizbul Mujahideen is a Kashmir-based group while the Lashkar-e-Taiba, to which Jat belonged, is based in Pakistan.
Such coordination among militant groups is not uncommon, Jammu and Kashmir Director General of Police SP Vaid told the Hindustan Times. “All the militant groups are now working together,” he said. “It’s not just this incident. Lately, we have been seeing many joint attacks by various groups.”