SRINAGAR: Seven Amarnath Yatra pilgrims were killed and 12 injured when terrorists opened fire on their bus in Jammu and Kashmir's Anantnag district this evening.
The bus, which was from Gujarat, was reportedly not part of the main yatra convoy and was not registered with the shrine board, the Central Reserve Police Force or CRPF said. The main yatra convoy is escorted by the CRPF which has now rushed troops to the spot.
Terrorists launched the attack on the bus at 8:20 pm in the Bantegoo area of the district, said officials.
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, reported news agency Press Trust of India.
The terrorists also fired at a police party in the area.
Internet services have also been suspended in the Kashmir Valley following the attack.
Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah tweeted: "Very sad news. The attack cannot be condemned strongly enough. My sympathies to the families & prayers for the injured. (sic)"
Jammu and Kashmir minister Naeem Akhtar, condemning the attack said this is a dark patch on the history of Kashmir. "This is the first time yatris have been targeted. Crackdown against terror will continue," he said.
Following the attack, security has also been enhanced at Jammu-Srinagar National Highway in Udhampur.
The annual yatra to the holy shrine of Amarnath began from the twin routes of Pahalgam and Baltal amidst tight security arrangements on June 29. Over 6,000 pilgrims were allowed to move towards the shrine from north Kashmir's Baltal base camp while 5,000 pilgrims proceeded from the traditional south Kashmir Pahalgam route.
Around 1.2 lakh pilgrims have registered themselves this year.
Among the security arrangements for the 45-day pilgrimage are a satellite tracking system, drones, mobile bunker vehicles and road opening parties (ROPs) along the entire route from Jammu to Pahalgam and Baltal.
The centre has provided an additional 40,000 paramilitary forces to assist the state government for the yatra.