Four attacks on mobile phone centres, towers shake up Srinagar

Srinagar: Four serial attacks here on Friday to disrupt mobile phone services have thrown service providers into panic and security agencies into a tizzy.

The first attack happened in the morning when unidentified attackers forced entry into an Aircel service centre in the busy commercial hub of Karan Nagar, forced the staff to stop business and leave before hurling a powerful hand grenade that destroyed the centre's furniture and fixtures.

An autorickshaw driver, Shahnawaz Ahmad, was injured in this explosion and admitted to the nearby SMHS hospital for treatment.

Minutes after this, another group of the attackers forced staff out of the Vodafone service/sale centre adjacent to Karan Nagar area and exploded another hand grenade inside, sending a clear message that they wanted mobile phone services to be shut down in the city.

As police said they had launched a manhunt to nab the attackers, a BSNL tower was attacked with a grenade in the Shaheedgunj area, adjacent to the civil secretariat that houses all the top offices of the state government including those of the chief minister, his cabinet colleagues and all the senior bureaucrats.

Another civilian was injured in this explosion.

Barely an hour after the third attack, another grenade attack occurred at a mobile phone tower in Wazir Bagh area of the city.

Friday's serial attacks are the first such incidents in Srinagar city through which the unknown assailants virtually declared a war on cellular operations in the state capital.

Earlier, gunmen had carried out attacks on mobile phone vendors and offices in north Kashmir areas, particularly Sopore town.

Former chief minister Omar Abdullah termed the attacks a wakeup call for Mufti Mohammad Sayeed and warned his successor not to take them lightly as "Srinagar is not Sopore".

Separatists have already distanced themselves from these attacks as Syed Salahuddin, the Muzaffarabad-based chief of guerrilla conglomerate "Jihad Council' calling the attackers "enemies of the people of Kashmir".

Sallahuddin also issued a statement on Thursday expelling Najar, a militant of the Hizbul Mujahiddin group whom intelligence agencies and police believe to be the ring leader of the group that has been planning and carrying out attacks against the cell phone business in the Kashmir Valley.

Just a fortnight back, state police said they had identified and pinned down those carrying out the attacks but the fact that these unidentified gunmen could move freely in the city and carry out more shatters the claims of police.

If the attacking spree continues not only would it affect the security atmosphere, but also the business sentiment and this would not be able to recover for a long time.

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