Srinagar : Terrorists on Monday shot dead five policemen and two bank employees in cold blood after forcing them out of two vehicles in Jammu and Kashmir's Kulgam district, police said.
The militants waylaid a cash van of the Jammu and Kashmir Bank and a police vehicle in a well-planned attack in Pombai village when they were on their way to Kulgam town, about 70 km from here.
The cash van had deposited Rs 18 lakh in Aharbal village branch of the bank.
When it reached the ambush spot, it was halted by a group of armed men at around 4.25 p.m. who ordered the occupants to deboard. They were lined up and gunned down.
The Pombai village road connects the area with Kulgam town.
Inspector General of Police S.J.M. Gilani told reporters that a militant, Umar Majeed of Kulgam, carried out the killings with his accomplices.
"The terrorists killed five of our policemen and two civilians working for the J&K Bank," he said.
The militants decamped with four rifles of the slain policemen. A junior officer killed in the attack was unarmed.
The J&K Bank has the largest network of branches in the Kashmir Valley. More than 200 branches operate in rural and far-flung areas.
Cash to bank branches is dispensed through cash vans secured by police while cash dispensation to over 2,000 ATMs in the troubled valley has been outsourced to a private security agency, a bank official told IANS.
Deputy Inspector General of Police (South Kashmir Range) S.P. Pani said a massive manhunt was launched for the killers.
The Pakistan-backed Hizbul Mujahideen claimed responsibility for the bloodbath. A Hizbul spokesman, calling himself Burhan-ud-Din, made the claim over telephone to a local news agency.
The militants escaped by the time Army and police reinforcements reached the spot.