7 Pilgrims Were Shot Dead While Returning From Amarnath Shrine

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Live update on Amarnath yatra 2017: At least seven pilgrims returning from the Amarnath shrine were shot dead and several wounded when terrorists fired on their bus as well as a security vehicle in Anantnag district of Jammu and Kashmir.

At least seven pilgrims returning from the Amarnath shrine were killed on Monday night in Jammu and Kashmir’s Anantnag district after terrorists opened fire on their bus and a security vehicle.


The attack occurred at Batengoo when 60-70 pilgrims were returning from Baltal, one of the base camps of the pilgrimage, to Jammu. Deputy chief minister Nirmal Singh said the bodies of the victims all of whom were from Gujarat – would be airlifted to state on Tuesday.

Political leaders condemned the attack, with Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying India would not be “bogged down” by such “cowardly” acts. In a joint statement, separatist leaders Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Yasin Malik expressed grief over the killings, saying the incident “goes against the very grain of Kashmiri ethos”.

10:20 am: Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani along with Gujarat BJP chief Jitu Vaghani have left for Surat to meet the victims’ families. Three of total seven killed hailed from south Gujarat. The bodies are expected to arrive at Surat airport around 1 pm.

Security has been tightened across the state. Forces have been deployed at airports, railways stations and places of worships.

9:40 am: Initial investigation has revealed that the attack on Amaranth yatra pilgrims was carried out by LeT, masterminded by Pakistani terrorist Ismail, IG Kashmir tells HT.

The LeT had, late on Monday night, issued a statement condemning the attack. “The attack on Amarnath pilgrims is highly reprehensible act. Islam does not allow violence against any faith,” the statement by Abdullah Ghaznavi, LeT’s spokesperson, says.


 

9:30 am: Delhi Police special cell issues advisory to put in place proper anti-terror arrangements where there is high footfall and for Kanwar Yatra, ANI reports.

9:20 am: Union minister Venkaiah Naidu says the terrorists involved in the attack on Amarnath pilgrims will not be spared. Speaking to CNN News 18 channel, Naidu says that the bus was not registered with the Amarnath yatra board. “This is something everyone knows, that you are not travel without security and yet this happened. The government is investigating how it did,” the minister says.

“I hope the pilgrims will cooperate by giving advance intimation, information and also follow the protocol of security so that they are all secured,” he said.

9:10 am: A high-level central team led by minister of state for home Hansraj Ahir will also visit Jammu and Kashmir to assess the security of the pilgrimage. Director general of CRPF RR Bhatnagar has already reached Srinagar to review the deployment of the central forces in the pilgrimage route. He will also attend a security review meeting convened by Governor NN Vohra in Srinagar.

8:50 am: The 19 injured and bodies of seven Amarnath pilgrims killed in the terror attack in Kashmir have been airlifted to New Delhi, says PTI. The bodies of the seven killed will reach Surat later today.

8:20 am: A batch of 3,289 Amarnath yatris left in a convoy of 105 vehicles from the Yatri Niwas base for the cave shrine at 3.15 am on Tuesday amid tight security arrangements.

8:00 am: High-level meet to take place at 9:45 am at home minister Rajnath Singh’s residence. National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, top officials of the home ministry, intelligence agencies and central paramilitary forces are also attending the meeting.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The meeting will take stock of the situation in Jammu and Kashmir, security of Amarnath pilgrims and how to prevent such possible attacks in the future, official sources told PTI.


 

7:35 am: Deeply saddened at loss of innocent lives. My thoughts and prayers are with bereaved family members and those injured, ANI quotes presidential candidate Meira Kumar. The NDA’s candidate Ram Nath Kovind called it a ‘cowardly attack’.

7: 33 am: President Pranab Mukherjee tweets his condolences.

7:31 am: CRPF IG (operations) Zulfiqar Hasan says the Amarnath yatra is continuing. “(Attack) is being investigated by Jammu and Kashmir police... Yatra is going on, we will ensure that it goes on peacefully,” ANI reported him as saying .

7:20 am: Security has been tightened in Anantnag. Inspector general (operations) of the Central Reserve Police Force visits the site of the attack.

7:10 am: Mobile data services have been suspended in Jammu . Only BSNL broadband services with limited speed is working, reports ANI.

Terror attack on Amarnath pilgrims

The Central Reserve Police Force, which provides security for the two-month long annual pilgrimage, said gunmen first opened fire on a security checkpoint but no injuries were reported.

The CRPF said in a statement that militants further attacked the pilgrims’ bus at Batengoo and escaped towards Arwani. Batengoo is 65km south of Srinagar. Close to 20 people, including security personnel, were injured.

A New Delhi based security official, speaking anonymously, told AFP that security personnel were exploring “all the angles including suspected Islamists”.

Hundreds of thousands of Hindu pilgrims trek over mountain trails to reach Amarnath caves, around 3,900 metres (12,800 feet) above sea level, in Kashmir every year.

The pilgrimage has previously been the target of militants, with more than 30 pilgrims killed in 2000.

There is heavy presence of security personnel in Kashmir because of militancy in the state. Tensions have also been high around the first anniversary of the death of charismatic rebel leader Burhan Wani, who was shot dead by security forces on July 8 2016.

The death of the 23-year-old, who had built up a big following on social media, sparked a huge outpouring of grief in Kashmir.

 

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