Bharatiya Janata Party President Jagat Prakash Nadda on Friday condoled the death of three party members who were killed in a suspected militant attack in Jammu and Kashmir a day ago, and said their sacrifices will not go in vain. He said the death of “such patriots” was a big loss for the country.

BJP Yuva Morcha General Secretary Fida Hussain along with party workers Umer Hajam and Umer Rashid Beigh were shot dead allegedly by militants in YK Pora area of Kulgam district late on Thursday evening. The Resistance Front, believed to be a shadow group of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, has claimed responsibility for the killings, according to PTI.

“Terrorists killed three leaders, including district BJP Yuva Morcha general secretary Fida Hussain, in a cowardly attack in Kulgam in Jammu and Kashmir,” Nadda said in a tweet. “The death of such patriots is a big loss for the country. The whole society is with the suffering families. These sacrifices will not go in vain.”

Jammu and Kashmir BJP President Ravinder Raina, meanwhile, blamed Pakistan for the attack. “Coward Pakistanis will have to pay heavy price for their sins, each one of them will be neutralised,” he told ANI.

Raina called the deceased men brave workers of the BJP, who “attained martyrdom for Bharat Mata”. “Their sacrifice won’t go in vain,” he added.

Spokesperson of the BJP’s Jammu and Kashmir unit, Altaf Thakur, called the killings “highly barbaric”. “Thakur said that even militants don’t spare the unarmed people on the auspicious occasion of Eid-e- Meelad un Nabi,” the party said in a statement.

The Jammu and Kashmir Police on Thursday said that they had registered a case under relevant sections of the law in connection with the killings, and an inquiry was underway as “officers continue to work to establish the full circumstances of this terror crime”.

There has been a sharp rise in attacks on Bharatiya Janata Party leaders in the Valley since June, with eight of them killed so far.

On October 6, a party leader was attacked by suspected militants in Jammu and Kashmir’s Ganderbal area. His personal security officer and a militant died in the firing. In August, suspected militants had killed Abdul Hamid Najar, who was the district president of Budgam BJP Other Backward Class Morcha.

BJP’s district president for Bandipora, Waseem Bari, his father and brother were shot dead by militants in July. A BJP sarpanch was shot at and injured on August 4, while another sarpanch from the party was shot dead two days later in Kulgam district.