Srinagar, Indian-administered Kashmir – Four policemen were killed when rebels stormed a police post in the southern part of Indian-administered Kashmir‘s Shopian district.
The state police chief Dilbagh Singh told Al Jazeera the police were attacked on Tuesday while they guarded four families of a minority Hindu community of Kashmiri Pandits.
“Four policemen were killed and this shows the desperation of the militants who do not only come to shoot but snatch the weapons. This is an unfortunate incident,” said Singh.
The attack happened in Zainapora village in Shopian, a district that has turned into a stronghold of armed fighters in the divided Himalayan region.
Three officers were killed instantly and the fourth was critically wounded and later died in a hospital, police officials said.
The members of the Hindu community being guarded by the policemen were not harmed in the incident.
Jaish-e-Muhammad, a Pakistani-based armed group, claimed the responsibility for the attack in a statement to a local news agency.
A senior police official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Al Jazeera that security forces based in isolated areas have “become the soft target of the militants”.
Policemen have become the prime targets of rebels in the restive region as the violence has seen an uptick with increased confrontations between the rebels and Indian security forces. More than 40 officers have been killed this year compared with 32 in 2017.
Earlier, in August, at least a dozen policemen and their kin were abducted by the suspected rebels and many of them were later shot dead.
Last month, the Indian forces intensified operations against fighters in the region killing more than 30 rebels in one month including some top commanders.
The latest attack on the policemen comes a day after security forces killed three rebels of Lashkar-e-Taiba, including two teenagers 14 and 17, in a gunfight in the outskirts of region’s main city sparking clashes.
Last month, rebels carried out a spree of abductions in Shopian and killed three civilians suspected of being “army informers”.
Videos of the killings were posted on social media where the rebels “warned locals of collaborating with the Indian forces”.
More than 1,500 policemen have been killed in Kashmir since the armed rebellion began in 1989.