Srinagar: Militants killed six Hindu pilgrims and wounded 14 others Monday in Indian-held Kashmir, police told AFP, after their bus came under attack.
India’s 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.
“Militants further attacked the pilgrims’ bus at Batingu (six civilians killed and 14 injured) and escaped towards Arwani,” the CRPF said in a statement.
The police force added the pilgrims were from the western Indian state of Gujarat.
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 Indian Kashmir every year.
The devotees worship the natural ice formation at the caves as a symbol of Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction.
“Pained beyond words on the dastardly attack on the peaceful Amarnath Yatris (pilgrims) in Jammu and Kashmir,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Twitter.
“India will never get bogged down by such cowardly attacks and the evil designs of hate,” Modi added.
The pilgrimage has previously been the target of militants, with more than 30 pilgrims killed in 2000.
Mirwaiz Umar Farooq, head of All Parties Hurriyat (Freedom) Conference, a political coalition opposed to the Indian rule of Kashmir, also condemned the attack.
“As the unfortunate news of the Yatris killing reaches us leadership and people of Kashmir are deeply disturbed and saddened and strongly condemn it,” Farooq said on Twitter.
Tensions have also been high around the first anniversary of the death of charismatic rebel leader Burhan Wani, who was martyred by Indian 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. – AFP
Story first published: 11th July 2017