Three places targeted in just over 5 minutes: How Amarnath Yatra attack happened

A clear picture of the Amarnath yatra in Anantnag terrorist attack started emerging late on Monday and an intelligence official’s message indicated that the militants were fast and wanted to inflict the maximum damage.

india Updated: Jul 11, 2017 18:22 IST
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria
Ravi Krishnan Khajuria
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Amarnath,Amarnath Yatra,Terror Attack
Security person stand guard after militants opened fire on the Amarnath Yatra in which some pilgrims were killed in Anantnag in Jammu and Kashmir on Monday. (PTI Photo)

It took just over five minutes for terrorists to target three places in Jammu and Kashmir’s Anantnag on Monday night and kill at least seven pilgrims and injured 19 others, who were returning from the case shrine in a bus.

A clear picture of the terrorist attack started emerging late on Monday and an intelligence official’s message indicated that the militants were fast and wanted to inflict the maximum damage.

“Militants first attacked a combined Naka (checkpost) of STF, SOG and CRPF at 2015 hours at Khannabal and ran towards Batingo (Batengo)...no loss or injuries reported. Militants further attacked at 2020 hours a pilgrims’ bus (GJ09Z/9976) at Batingo (seven pilgrims killed and 14 others injured) & (militants) escaped towards Arwani. While escaping militants fired upon the camp of G/90 Battalion located at Arwani. No loss/injury reported. Pilgrims belonged to Gujarat (sic),” it read.

More than 60 pilgrims, many of them from Gujarat, were returning from Baltal after paying obeisance at the cave shrine when the bus was attacked.

Of the seven dead, five belonged to Gujarat and two were from Maharashtra. The four critically injured pilgrims are likely to be shifted to Delhi for specialised treatment in a Border Security Force (BSF) plane.

Survivors of the terrorist attack said on Tuesday a flat tyre caused a fatal delay of around two hours forcing them to travel on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway after dark. They said the attack happened so quickly that many didn’t realise what was happening.

“Phataphat marne lage goli, andhere mein kuch samaj nahi aaya (They started firing indiscriminately. We could not fathom anything in the dark),’’ Baghimani Thakur, a fellow traveller from Palgad Maharastra, said at the Anantnag district hospital while recounting the horrors of the attack.

They added the driver of the bus saved many lives by not stopping the vehicle even as the militants kept firing.

Inspector general of police (Kashmir Range) Muneer Khan told the Hindustan Times on Tuesday the attack was carried out by Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and masterminded by its Pakistan-based operative, Ismail.

However, the militant outfit denied the charges and its spokesperson Abdullah Ghaznavi called it a “highly reprehensible act’’ and blamed “Indian agencies’’ for the attack.

“Islam doesn’t allow violence against any faith. We strongly condemn such acts,’’ a LeT statement said.

Union home minister Rajnath Singh chaired a high-level security review meeting at his residence in New Delhi to take stock of the situation in Jammu and Kashmir. Jammu and Kashmir governor NN Vohra has also called a meeting over the same issue.

National security advisor Ajit Doval, top officials of the home ministry, intelligence agencies and central paramilitary forces are also attending the meeting.

Singh spoke to Vohra and chief minister Mehbooba Mufti after the attack on Monday and assured full assistance to the injured. The home minister called the state’s director general of police.

First Published: Jul 11, 2017 14:19 IST