- Seven Amarnath pilgrims killed after terrorists fired at their bus
- At least 20 more injured in one of the worst terror strikes in the state
- LeT behind attack, mastermind is Pak terrorist Ismail, says police
The police in Kashmir say the terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba was behind the attack and the mastermind is a Pakistani terrorist, Abu Ismail.
The pilgrims' bus was surrounded on three sides by the terrorists near a security checkpost at Anantnag and fired at. The same terrorists had first fired at an armoured police car around 8:30 pm.
The bus, which had pilgrims from Gujarat and Maharashtra, was on its way back from the Amarnath shrine located in a narrow gorge at the end of a valley nearly 50 km from Pahalgam. Police sources say the rules of the pilgrimage bans buses from travelling on a highway after 7 pm for security reasons but the bus had been delayed because of a breakdown. The bus was also reportedly not part of the official tour, which means that it did not have the standard police escort.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh had called a meeting to review security in Jammu and Kashmir, especially of the Amarnath pilgrimage, which takes place every year under the protection of about 40,000 troops. For the first time this year, the arrangements include drones and satellite tracking.
A letter from Mr Khan to other security officials on June 25 had warned of an intelligence input that said "terrorists have been directed to eliminate 100 to 150 pilgrims and about 200 police officers and officials." The letter said the attack could target a Yatra convoy "which they believe will result in flaring of communal tensions throughout the nation." The police officer said in the letter that further corroboration was needed but an attack could not be ruled out.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying he was "pained beyond words", tweeted last night: "India will never get bogged down by such cowardly attacks and the evil designs of hate."
The attack is "an assault on our values and traditions", said Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, adding: "The head of every Kashmiri hangs in shame."