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Manhunt launched after terror attack on bus in Jammu's Reasi

ByMir Ehsan, Srinagar
Jun 11, 2024 05:00 AM IST

Police launch massive search operation after terrorists attack bus in Jammu, killing 9 and injuring 42. Suspected Lashkar-e-Taiba involvement.

Police formed 11 teams on Monday and mounted a massive search operation to nab the terrorists who attacked a bus full of pilgrims in Reasi district in Jammu that killed nine people and injured another 42 even as authorities said they suspected the hand of Pakistan-based terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba behind the terror strike.

Rescue work underway in Reasi on Monday. (PTI)

The state investigation agency and National Investigation Agency also joined the probe and collected evidence from the spot of the attack in Teryath. Police questioned some local residents. The 53-seater bus was carrying pilgrims from Shiv Khori temple in Reasi to Katra, when terrorists opened fire at around 6.10pm in Teryath village of Reasi on Sunday evening. The bus rolled into a gorge.

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ALSO READ- Reasi bus terror attack: Four from Rajasthan, three from UP among nine victims

Officials believe terrorists involved in the attack could be hiding in nearby forests, necessitating drones and quadcopters to track down the attackers.

“As per our initial information gathered from eye witnesses and footprints from the area, there could possibly two to three terrorists who were involved in this attack on bus. Our investigations are going on and operation is on in the area,” said deputy inspector general of police in Udhampur, Rayees Mohammad Bhat.

“We have called a lot of people for questioning. As far as analysis till now, we see Lashkar’s hand,” he added.

Among the dead was a two-year-old.

This the worst terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir in two years and sparked a nationwide outpouring of outrage and grief.

ALSO READ- ‘We feared terrorists would come down, kill us on spot’: Reasi attack's survivor

The Reasi area of Jammu has been peaceful for two decades, but officials said it is used as a transit point by terrorists after crossing the Line of Control from Poonch and Rajouri to reach the Kashmir Valley.

The attack came weeks before the start of the annual Amarnath Yatra and impending assembly elections that the Election Commission of India has to be conducted before September, on directions of the Supreme Court.

Officers privy to details said forensic teams were trying to find out weapons and their make used by the attackers and collected empty shells from the spot of attack.

Lieutenant governor Manoj Sinha said a joint operation was launched against terrorists in Reasi and the perpetrators of the bus attack won’t be spared. Sinha interacted with the injured passengers.

“I have already met the injured ...Police, CRPF and the Army has launched a joint operation and those who are responsible for the attack efforts are underway to get them punished,” Sinha said.

He said that attempts were being made to revive militancy in the Jammu region.

“The first priority is to save the injured. I have spoken to the PM and home minister, and I assure the people that whosoever is responsible for the attack won’t be spared,” he said.

ALSO READ- ‘Have to start war with Pak if…’: Union minister says Reasi terror attack was ‘deliberate’

Sinha also approved an ex-gratia of 10 lakh each for the next of kin of pilgrims and “ 50,000 each for those injured.

Three shadow groups associated with the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohammed initially claimed responsibility for the attack. But in the face of widespread condemnation and outrage, the groups retracted their statements. The People’s Anti-Facist Force (PAFF), Revival of Resistance (both linked to Jaish), and The Resistance Front (affiliated with Lashkar-e-Taiba) initially took to social media to assert their involvement in the attack.

On Monday, protests were held across Jammu against the attack. The Congress also held a protest in Jammu and blamed the government for failing to protect lives of pilgrims.Congress vice-president Raman Bhalla said that the government should take every step to protect lives of innocent civilians. “This attack has exposed tall claims about security in the J&K.”

On Monday evening lieutenant governor Manoj Sinha chaired a high-level security review meeting with the officials of J&K Police and Civil Administration, at Police Headquarters, Jammu. Later, in a post on X, he said: “Chaired a security review meeting with the officials of J&K Police and Civil Administration. I assure the people that those behind attack on pilgrims in Reasi and those aiding and abetting them will be punished”.

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