Attack on pilgrims: Officials fear communal tension

Attack on pilgrims: Officials fear communal tension

Centre to rush high-level team to assess security preparedness

Attack on pilgrims: Officials fear communal tension
Monday’s terror attack on Amarnath pilgrims may trigger a divide between Hindus and Muslims in Jammu and Kashmir, and elsewhere, security officials fear.

For the last 17 years, the pilgrims were never targeted and this has been highlighted by the security establishment earlier.

According to a report sent by the Jammu and Kashmir government to the Ministry of Home Affairs, the bus carrying the pilgrims was targeted twice by two groups of terrorists within 75 metres.

The terrorists managed to flee after firing using automatic rifles. The bus had a flat tyre at Sangam in Anantnag district while plying from Srinagar to Jammu. It delayed the journey by about an hour.

Soon after the bus resumed its onward journey, it came under attack at Khanabal at 8.17 pm. The two-page report said the casualty could have been higher if driver Salim Sheikh had not kept the bus moving.

According to the officials, the driver did not stop when the terrorists first targeted the bus. He fled past them but had to face another set of terrorists. Even this time, Sheikh did not stop despite heavy firing.

He finally stopped the bus at a police point, a few kilometres away, and the policemen on duty took the pilgrims to the Anantnag police line, the report stated. Most pilgrims sustained injuries on legs, nose and shoulders.

This is the second major attack on Amarnath pilgrims. In August 2000, 30 pilgrims were killed during an encounter between the security forces and Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorists.
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