NATIONAL

Militants now target roads

Jammu Sept. 6. In an apparent shift of strategy militants are now targeting the road network in Jammu and Kashmir to hit at the very roots of the State's economy. Improvised explosive devices are being planted on remote roads to snap vital road links. The attacks serve two purposes: the militants' presence is felt in the rural pockets and the Army too suffers as supply lines get hit.

Ever since militancy gathered force , the Army has stopped traffic on far-flung roads during night. At the crack of dawn, road-opening parties sweep the roads for mines before allowing vehicles to pass.

Of late, the mine detection operations have become difficult, as militants either plant the IEDs along the road margins or bury them deep enough to escape detection. And, at times the explosives are wrapped or rolled in thick rubber or plastic.

"The militants are trying to outsmart us by adopting new techniques. It takes time to understand a deception strategy before countering it,'' confides a senior Army officer.

Militants see the road links to the remote parts of the State as a threat to their supremacy and dominance. Employees involved in road-laying works have received threats to keep off the work and on occasions have been attacked.

Of late, militants appear to have set their sights on the vital Jammu-Srinagar National Highway. In the last week alone, more than four attempts have been made to blow up the highway, which apart from being one of the busiest roads, is used by the Army to route supplies to various parts of the State.

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