Police in Jammu and Kashmir say that as many as seven Amarnath yatris had been killed as militants opened fire in Anantnag.
TV channels reported that the militants’ target was a bus carrying pilgrims. According to other reports, three security personnel too were among those injured.
Internet services in Kashmir have been blocked in view of the latest attack.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a series of tweets, “Pained beyond words on the dastardly attack on peaceful Amarnath Yatris in J&K. The attack deserves strongest condemnation from everyone. My thoughts are with all those who lost their loved ones in the attack in J&K. My prayers with the injured.
“India will never get bogged down by such cowardly attacks & the evil designs of hate. I have spoken to the Governor and Chief Minister of J&K and assured all possible assistance required.”
Congress ice president, Rahul Gandhi tweeted, “I share the pain & anguish of families who lost loved ones in the terror attack on innocent Amarnath Yatris today. India will never be intimidated by these terrorist cowards. This is a grave & unacceptable security lapse. The PM needs to accept responsibility and never allow it to happen again.”
At 8.20 pm on Monday, the militants attacked an armoured car of the police, an official said. When the police fired back, the militants fled, firing indiscriminately, the official said.
A bus carrying yatris was on the highway when the incident occurred.
“In the firing by militants, seven people, five of them women, were killed, and another seven injured,” the official added.
The bus had come from Sonamarg. The pilgrims were on their way back after visiting the Amarnath shrine.
The police claimed the bus driver had violated rules for the pilgrimage, which state that no yatra vehicle should be on a highway after 7 pm.
“Reportedly the bus was neither a part of convoy nor registered with shrine board. Troops of 90 Bn & 40 battalion of the CRPF were rushed to the spot,” said a senior CRPF official, according to news agency, PTI.
The pilgrims travelling in the bus were not registered, said several reports. The families in the bus were travelling on their own.
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister, Omar Abdullah, said ‘this is not something I would condone.’
“These are enemies of humanity and Kashmir and Kashmiryat. We must pray for those injured,” Abdullah told NDTV.
Delhi chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal, too condemned the ‘cowardly act.’
He tweeted, “Strongly condemn terror attack. A cowardly act.”
“A group of heavily armed terrorists today attacked police parties in Batengoo and Khanabal area of the district (Anantnag). Unfortunately, a pilgrim bus was caught in the crossfire leading to the death of six yatris and injuring 12 others,” Times of India quoted Munir Khan, IGP Kashmir, as saying.
The cowardly attack was widely condemned on social media with journalists and politicians cutting across party lines expressing their disgust on the killings of Amarnath pilgrims.
Horrible news of cowardly attack on Amarmath yatris! Initial reports say 2 yatris killed, many injured! Utterly condemnable!
— Rifat Jawaid (@RifatJawaid) July 10, 2017
Terrible news coming in on Amarnath Yatra: where is kashmiriyat when innocent pilgrims are targeted by terror? #AmarnathYatra
— Rajdeep Sardesai (@sardesairajdeep) July 10, 2017
Shameful, Horrific news of Terror Attack on Amarnath Yatra- pilgrims and police party. Withholding casualty numbers as figures contradictory
— barkha dutt (@BDUTT) July 10, 2017
Jammu and Kashmir police: 6 Amarnath yatris killed in terror attack, 12 injured. Horrific beyond words
— Nidhi Razdan (@Nidhi) July 10, 2017
Never happened in the past, terrorists fired on Amarnath Yatra pilgrims killing many. I hope all Kashmiris will stand against it.
— ASHUTOSH MISHRA (@ashu3page) July 10, 2017
More to follow