Nine Hindu pilgrims killed in bus attack in India's Jammu

bus accident in JammuImage source, ANI
Image caption,

Police say the driver lost control after the bus was fired upon

  • Published

Nine people have died and 33 injured after suspected militants fired on a bus carrying Hindu pilgrims in the Indian federal territory of Jammu and Kashmir, police officials said.

Officials had initially said after the incident on Sunday that the death toll was 10, but revised the figure later.

They said that the driver lost control after the attack, causing the bus to plunge into a gorge in Reasi district of Jammu.

While rescue operations have concluded, a search operation by the Indian army and police is under way to track down the attackers.

Officials said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had taken "stock of the situation" and asked for the best medical care to be provided to the injured.

"All those behind this heinous act will be punished soon," Manoj Sinha, the region's top administrator, wrote on X (formerly Twitter).

Mr Sinha has announced, external a compensation of 1m rupees ($12000; £9400) to the next of kin of the deceased and 50,000 rupees to the injured.

The bus was on its way to the base camp of the famous Hindu shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi when it was fired upon.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack yet but Mohita Sharma, the district police chief, told Reuters that suspected militants had "ambushed the bus".

The Himalayan region of Kashmir has been a flashpoint between India and Pakistan for over six decades.

Since 1947, the nuclear-armed neighbours have fought two wars over the Muslim-majority territory, which both claim in full but control in part. Since 1989, Indian-administered Kashmir has also seen an armed insurgency against Delhi's rule, claiming thousands of lives.

Delhi accuses Islamabad of harbouring militants and disrupting peace in the region, a charge Pakistan denies.

The news of the attack broke as Mr Modi took oath as India's prime minister for the third consecutive term at a swearing-in ceremony in Delhi.

On Monday, the Jammu police released the names of the victims, external, including the driver of the bus. They are from the states of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan.

Two of the victims are children, aged two years and 14.

Some survivors spoke to ANI news agency about their ordeal.

One of them said, external the driver had been shot and that the firing didn't stop even after the bus fell into the gorge.

Image source, ANI
Image caption,

A search operation is under way to locate the attackers

Amit Shah, who was home minister in Mr Modi's previous government, expressed grief over the incident.

"The culprits of this dastardly attack will not be spared and will face the wrath of the law," he wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

Rahul Gandhi, the leader of main opposition party Congress, questioned the security situation in the region.

"This shameful incident is the true picture of the worrying security situation in Jammu and Kashmir," he wrote on X.

In 2017, seven Hindu pilgrims, six of them women, were killed, external after their bus, returning from the famed Amarnath pilgrimage site in Anantnag district, got caught in a gun battle between police and militants.

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