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SOURCE: PTI

Terrorists struck at two places in Kashmir on Saturday night, killing a former sarpanch in Shopian and injuring a tourist couple from Rajasthan in Anantnag, two days ahead of Lok Sabha elections in Baramulla.

The first attack took place on an open tourist camp near Pahalgam and the second on the former sarpanch at Hirpora in south Kashmir, officials said “Terrorists fired upon and injured a woman, Farha, a resident of Jaipur (in Rajasthan) and her spouse Tabrez at Yannar in Anantnag. The injured were evacuated to a hospital for treatment. The area has been cordoned off. Further details shall follow,” the Kashmir Zone Police posted on X.

In another attack, within half-an-hour, terrorists shot dead former sarpanch Aijaz Sheikh in Shopian’s Hirpora around 10.30 pm, the officials said.

Sheikh, who was associated with the BJP, was rushed to a hospital where he succumbed to injuries, they said.

The areas in Anantnag and Shopian have been cordoned off and search operations have been launched to nab the attackers, the officials said.

The back-to-back attacks come at a time when campaigning for the parliamentary polls in the Anantnag-Rajouri seat is going on. Polling in Baramulla will be held on May 20 in the fifth round of the seven-phase general elections.

Political parties in Jammu and Kashmir, including the National Conference, PDP and the BJP, condemned the attacks.

Former chief minister and PDP president Mehbooba Mufti, who is contesting the Lok Sabha elections from the Anantnag-Rajouri seat, said on X, “While we condemn the attack in Pahalgam today that resulted in injuries to two tourists followed by another attack on a (former) sarpanch in Hirpora, Shopian – the timing of these attacks given that the south election was delayed without any reason is a cause of concern. Especially keeping in mind normalcy claims touted by GOI (Government of India).” Polling for the seat was scheduled to be conducted on May 7 but was deferred after few political parties in Jammu and Kashmir raised concerns over weather conditions. Polling will now being held on May 25.

National Conference president Farooq Abdullah and vice president Omar Abdullah also condemned the terror attacks.

“They have said that such acts of brutality remain a serious impediment to achieving long-term peace in J-K. They urged all communities to come together in these challenging times and support efforts towards lasting harmony. Their thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families during this difficult period,” a statement from the party said.

The BJP in a statement said, “We strongly condemn the killing of ex-sarpanch Aijaz Ahmad Sheikh in Hirpora, Shopian, South Kashmir, by terrorists today.” “Aijaz Ahmad was a brave soldier of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Jammu and Kashmir. The BJP firmly stands with the family of Aijaz Ahmad, who lost his life in this terror attack,” it said.