Massive manhunt under way for 3 foreign terrorists following attack on bus in J-K’s Reasi

9 pilgrims were killed and 41 others were injured in the deadly attack

Team Parvasi – Inside

Massive manhunt under way for 3 foreign terrorists following attack on bus in J-K’s Reasi

Jammu:  A massive manhunt is under way for three foreign terrorists, possibly of the Lashkar-e-Toiba, responsible for the deadly attack on pilgrims in Jammu and Kashmir’s Reasi that resulted in the loss of nine lives, including a two-year-old, officials involved in the investigation said on Monday.

Based on the statements recorded by those injured in the attack, the officials said they have not ruled out the possibility of a fourth person being present at the spot who acted as a lookout for the three terrorists.

Nine people were killed and 41 injured as the terrorists opened fire at the 53-seater bus, on its way from the Shiv Khori temple to the Mata Vaishno Devi shrine in Katra, causing it to veer off the road and fall into a deep gorge near Teryath village in the Poni area of Reasi on Sunday.

The bus was ferrying pilgrims from Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Delhi. Following the attack, a joint operation was launched involving the police, the Army, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and central intelligence agencies.

Survivors of the attack are recording their statements as part of the ongoing probe into the attack, while a thorough combing operation is underway to track down the perpetrators, the officials said.

The Resistance Front (TRF), a shadow group of the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba terror outfit, initially claimed responsibility for the attack but retracted its statement later.

Among those killed in the attack are two-year-old Titu Sawhney and his mother Pooja from Rajasthan. They were among four people from the state who lost their lives in the attack.

Three of the deceased were from Uttar Pradesh. The driver and the conductor of the bus, both from Reasi, were also among the victims. The officials said five of the nine deceased had gunshot wounds.

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They added that 41 people were injured in the attack and 10 of them had bullet injuries. Some of those injured were undergoing treatment in hospitals across Jammu and Reasi districts.

Security forces suspect the terrorists are hiding in the mountainous terrains of Rajouri and Reasi, and have intensified combing operations in the region.

“A search operation has been launched in the area,” Senior Superintendent of Police, Reasi, Mohita Sharma said, adding that village defence committees have also been geared up.

Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha condemned the attack, calling it a part of a malicious scheme to disrupt peace in the region.

Expressing solidarity with the affected families, the administration has approved ex gratia payments of Rs 10 lakh for the families of the deceased and Rs 50,000 for those injured.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Minister Amit Shah have been briefed on the situation, with assurances that those responsible for the attack will face justice, Sinha said.

“The attack is a despicable attempt to instigate turmoil in Jammu, but we are resolute in our commitment to safeguard the region,” Sinha said during a visit to the Government Medical College to enquire after the injured.

In a related development, the separatist amalgam Hurriyat Conference condemned the terror attack and said the conglomerate “has and will always condemn all forms of violence against humanity. The loss of precious human lives is deeply disturbing”.

Anti-Pakistan protests broke out across the Jammu region, including Katra, Doda town and Kathua district, calling for increased security measures to prevent such incidents. Accusing Pakistan of sponsoring terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir, the protesters demanded action against the neighbouring country.

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