Militants on Saturday struck in the heart of the city shooting two policemen dead from point blank range in an apparent attempt to vitiate the atmosphere ahead of the Prime Minister's visit to the state.
Using silencer-fitted pistols, the ultras carried out the attack at busy Hari Singh High Street near Jehangir Chowk here this afternoon, resulting in critical injuries to Head constable Mohammed Maqbool and constable Nazir Ahmed, police said.
While Maqbool died on his way to hospital, Nazir Ahmed succumbed to his injuries when he was being operated in the hospital, they said.
A 16-year-old girl, identified as Ishrat of Ganderbal, was also injured in the attack as she was hit by a bullet in the arm, the police said.
The attack comes three days ahead of high profile two-day visit of the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to the state during which he will inaugurate the railway section between Banihal and Qazigund. Singh is scheduled to arrive here on June 25.
The firing sparked off panic as people present in the busy area ran for safety.
The area was cordoned off and a hunt has been launched to nab the militants involved in the attack, the spokesman said.
Police sources said the security agencies are reviewing the CCTV footage of the camera installed in the area for identifying the assailants.
No militant outfit has so far claimed responsibility for the incident which came a day after police carried out a crackdown on the nearby commercial hub of Lal Chowk following intelligence inputs that militants might try to sneak into the city.
No one was arrested during the hour-long operation which was a common sight during the 1990-2000 decade at the peak of militancy.
The operation was carried out in view of inputs that militants might try to sneak into the city to disturb the peace by carrying out subversive activities, officials said.
Meanwhile, a wreath laying ceremony was held for the slain cops at the police control room here.
Qamar Ali Akhoon, advisor to Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, Minister of State for Animal Husbandry, Nazir Ahmad Khan Gurezi, senior officers of the forces, including Director General of Police Ashok Prasad and IGP Kashmir A G Mir laid floral wreaths on the coffins of the slain cops.
Talking to reporters, Mir claimed that militant outfit Hizbul Mujahideen was behind the attack.
Asked if the attack was related to the Prime Minister's visit to the Valley next week, the IGP evaded a direct reply, saying such incidents have taken place in the past one year.
He added the security will be strengthened for the Prime Minister's visit to the state.