An improvised explosive device (IED), planted by suspected militants, was recovered on Wednesday night near Jawahar tunnel on Srinagar-Jammu highway.
The 2.5 km Jawarhar Tunnel, one of the longest tunnel-roads in Asia, is witnessing a huge rush of visitors including tourists and pilgrims for the annual Amarnath Yatra in the mountains of south Kashmir.
Security officials said that a 500-gm IED was hidden underneath a culvert some 350 meters away from Southern side of the tunnel, which is over 90 km from summer capital Srinagar.
"We had inputs that national highway would be attacked following the recent militant attacks on police and army. Besides, the highway is witnessing a huge rush of pilgrims because of the annual Amarnath Yatra. Hence, our special teams were continuously in search of explosives on Srinagar-Jammu highway," said BN Ramesh, inspector general operations of CRPF at Panthachowk headquarters in south Kashmir.
"Last night at around 9 pm, one of our teams found a green box near the Jawahar tunnel under a culvert with protruding wires, which turned out to be an IED. Traffic was stopped on both sides of the tunnel till midnight to defuse the device," Ramesh said.
He, however, ruled out that the device was planted to target the Yatra vehicles. "It seems that pilgrims were not the intended target as most of the Yatra vehicles cross the tunnel till 8 pm and the device was found hours later."
"Somebody is hell bent to create confusion and trigger panic in the valley to hurt the image of Kashmiris. The valley is full of tourists and amaranth pilgrims these days," Ramesh stressed.
Around 3.75 lakh pilgrims have already visited the cave shrine located at a height of 3,888 metres in the mountains of South Kashmir's Lidder Valley. Over 5 lakh tourists have already visited the Valley with more and more pouring in.
Security forces have been grappling with militancy related violence over the past weeks even as authorities claim that the violence was at its lowest ebb ever since it started more than two decades ago. At least five militants and one soldier have been killed in separate encounters across the valley last week.
Jawahar tunnel is guarded by police and military round the clock. CCTVs are installed in and outside the tunnel for continuous monitoring by security forces.