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|July 25, 1998||
Bloody Friday, in KashmirMukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar
In a drastic escalation of militancy in Kashmir, five persons including three Special Police Officers were gunned down on Friday.
A top pro-government militant was among the dead, while the private secretary attached to the state public health department is crictically wounded.
Elsewhere, three armymen were killed and five others injured, in separate incidents.
Farooq Ahmad, the private secretary, was leaving the mosque at Safa Kadal, in Srinagar, after routine prayers when he was shot at.
He was immediately shifted to hospital, where his condition is said to be critical. The incident sparked intensive searches in the area, by security personnel.
Besides the shootings, militants also made another attempt to blow up the New Delhi-bound Shalimar Express. A bomb planted near the track however exploded minutes after the train had passed Bari Brahmna. The explosion killed one armyman, and injured two others.
Police sources admit that the killings presented a setback to the offensive launched by the police and security forces against militants.
Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Mohammad Shah laid the blame entirely on the National Conference government headed by Dr Farooq Abdullah, saying it had failed on all fronts.
Shah alleged that while militancy was on the rise, central funds were being squandered in non-productive expenditures such as the purchase of helicopters for politicians, payment of monies to film personalities to induce them to shoot in Kashmir and to cinema hall operators to tempt them into restarting operations.
Underlining the urgency of the situation, Shah said that matters in the valley were so critical that, "God forbid, if a mere lapse is committed by any government on either side of the Line Of Control, it will cause wholesale destruction of the masses".
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