9 killed, 33 injured after militants attack bus carrying pilgrims in Reasi

JAMMU — Nine people including three women were killed and 33 injured as a bus carrying pilgrims from Uttar Pradesh and Delhi plunged into a deep gorge after an ambush by militants in Jammu and Kashmir’s Reasi district on Sunday evening, police said.

The militants opened fire at the bus when it was en route from Shiv Khori temple to Mata Vaishno Devi shrine at Katra near Teryath village in the Poni area. The bus, a 53-seater, veered off the road and plunged into the deep gorge following the gunfire at around 6:15 pm.

“An unfortunate incident occurred and as per the initial reports, the militants had laid an ambush and opened fire on the bus which had left Shiv Khori for Katra. The driver lost balance and the vehicle fell into the gorge,” Senior Superintendent of Police, Reasi, Mohita Sharma told reporters at the scene.

Sharma said the rescue operation was completed and so far nine persons were dead and 33 others injured in the incident and they have been shifted to different hospitals.

“The identity of the deceased is not clear yet but preliminary reports suggest that they all belong to Uttar Pradesh,” the officer said.

Sharma said they usually remain on high alert and have fully secured the Shiv Khori temple with frequent conduct of area domination patrols in the adjoining areas for the past many days.

“We have also started firing practice for the Village Defence Guards and they all have been put on alert,” the SSP said.

Deputy Commissioner, Reasi Vishesh Paul Mahajan, who also reached the scene to coordinate rescue and search operations, said three of the dead were women.

“While bodies of four persons are in a hospital near the site, five others were shifted to district hospital Reasi,” he said, adding it was not immediately clear whether any of the deceased was also hit by the bullets.

Meanwhile, political leaders from national to regional level including, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge, Lieutenant Governor of J&K Manoj Sinha, former Chief Ministers of erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir and others have condemned the attack. — (PTI)