Anantnag– In a rare attack on the Amarnath Yatra, terrorists killed seven pilgrims and injured 14 others, including policemen, when they struck at a bus carrying them in Jammu and Kashmir’s Anantang district.
The bus was attacked in Batengoo around 8.20 p.m. while returning from Baltal to Mir Bazar after darshan, J&K police and CRPF said.
The militants also carried out two attacks on security forces in the area.
Police sources said, the militants attacked a mini bus carrying pilgrims from Gujarat. The bus was not officially registered with the Amarnath Shrine Board for the pilgrimage and was without police escort, they said.
Inspector General of Police Munir Khan said that seven pilgrims were killed, and 14 injured.
The injured have been taken to the Army Base Hospital in Srinagar.
Khan said the attack was aimed at the security forces and not the yatris.
The last known terror attack on the Amarnath Yatra was the killing of 30 persons, mostly pilgrims, in the base camp in Pahalgam in 2000.
A CRPF statement said the bus was not part of the official yatra and not registered with the Amarnath Shrine Board.
In the national capital, National Security Advisor Ajit Doval apprised Prime Minister Narendra Modi of the incident. Union Home and Defence Ministry officials were huddled in a meeting to take stock of the latest situation.
Prime Minister Modi tweeted: “Pained beyond words on the dastardly attack on peaceful Amarnath Yatris in J&K. The attack deserves strongest condemnation from everyone.”
Union Minister of State in the PMO Jitendra Singh condemned the attack.
“It is not just an attack on the pilgrims, but an attack on the composite culture of the nation. As far as the Government of India is concerned, we have a policy of zero tolerance against terror, whether it is local or from across the border,” he said.
Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said: “It is an attack on our roots. We will not leave any stone unturned in bringing the perpetrators of this attack to justice.”
Senior minister in the Mehbooba Mufti-led government Nayeem Akhtar termed the attack a “dark patch in the history of Kashmir”.
National Conference leader Omar Abdullah said: “The attack cannot be condemned strongly enough.”
He added that such an attack was expected in spite of recent successes against militants by security forces. “The one thing we had all feared this year during the yatra. In spite of recent successes against militants and unprecedented force presence,” he tweeted.
Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad termed it “unfortunate”, and added that the militants will have to “pay through their nose”. He also spoke to the Chief Minister.
Hurriyat leaders Syed Ali Geelani and Mirwaiz Umar Farooq also condemned the attack.
The attack took place hours after the Jammu and Kashmir Police claimed to have busted a Lashkar-e-Taiba module with the arrests of two persons, including Sandeep Kumar Sharma alias Adil, a resident of Muzaffarnagar, Uttar Pradesh.
Meanwhile, authorities blocked internet services in the Valley.
On Saturday, the Amarnath yatra was suspended from Jammu side due to law and order situation in the Kashmir Valley which was under curfew in the wake of the death anniversary of militant commander Burhan Wani.(IANS)