US and India will continue to fight against terror threats, US statement said on Amarnath attack.
The United States today 'strongly condemned' the terror attack on Amarnath Yatra pilgrims in south Kashmir in which seven people were killed on Monday night and said "an attack on religious freedom is an attack on the most fundamental right of liberty."
In a statement, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said "The United States and India will continue to fight together against terrorist threats in every part of the world" while extending condolences to the victims' families. Last month, when PM Modi visited the White House in Washington, US President Donald Trump and he had struck a common note on terrorism, saying eliminating it is among the top-most priorities for the two nations.
The police in Kashmir say the terror group Lashkar-e-Taiba was behind the attack and the mastermind is a Pakistani terrorist, Abu Ismail. A search is currently on for the 26-year-old Pakistani national infiltrated into India about two years ago and has been operating in south Kashmir.
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.
Munir Khan, a senior police officer in Kashmir, said it appeared to be a revenge attack after a major Lashkar unit was busted in the Valley a day before. The police said they received startling information about recent terror attacks in Anantnag after the arrest of Sandeep Kumar Sharma, a resident of Uttar Pradesh who was himself involved in three major attacks on the army and the police in the last month.
About 100,000 pilgrims have already completed the journey to the Amarnath shrine that began late last month and is due to end in late August. The journey begins from Jammu, which is 200 km from the shrine.