Saturday’s terror attack in Pampore, in which three soldiers were killed, took the number of casualties among forces this year to 87, making 2016 the bloodiest year since 2008 for security personnel in Jammu and Kashmir.

Two motorcycle-borne terrorists opened fire on an Army convoy on the Srinagar-Jammu highway in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district in the afternoon. Police sources and eyewitnesses said terrorists wearing pherans fired incessantly at the vehicles carrying the Army men near Kadlabal area of Pampore.

After the attack, the terrorists fled from the spot, sources said. A massive search operation has been launched and the operation is still on, an Army spokesperson in Srinagar said. A police spokesman said the security forces exercised restraint due to the presence of a large number of civilians in the market.

84 security force personnel were killed in 2016, till last week, in various terror-related incidents in the conflict-ridden state. In 2008, which was marked by the Mumbai terror attacks and the subsequent escalation of tension between India and Pakistan, 90 security personnel were killed in the state.

The following year, 78 securitymen were killed in various terror-related incidents. The number of casualties among the forces dropped sharply to 17 in 2012. In 2013, the number went up to 61 but came down steadily to 51 in 2014 and 41 in 2015. Of the 87 casualties in 2016, 71 were killed in the Kashmir Valley. More than three dozen Army men, including half a dozen officers, were killed in different attacks in 2016. Nineteen Army men were killed in the Uri terror attack this year that led to massive ceasefire violations along the Indo-Pak border.

Security convoys have been targeted several times through the Pampore stretch of Srinagar-Jammu national highway that is also used to carry supplies to the Srinagar-based 15 Corps of the Indian Army. On February 20 this year, militants attacked an Army convoy and then took refuge in the government-run Entrepreneurship Development Institute. In the three-day stand-off, three soldiers, including two captains and a Special Forces operator, were killed and part of the building was destroyed. On June 25, Lashkar-e-Taiba terrorists ambushed a CRPF convoy along the same Srinagar-Jammu national highway near Frestabal area of Pampore, killing eight officers. The EDI building in Pampore was again targeted in October, resulting in another three-day stand-off between the forces and militants.