Amarnath Yatra
Pilgrims leave for Amarnath Yatra

Jammu: A fresh batch of 3,289 pilgrims left Jammu for Amarnath Yatra to the Kashmir valley on Tuesday despite a terror attack the previous day on a bus which left seven pilgrims dead. “A fresh batch of 3,289 yatris left Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas in an escorted convoy of 185 vehicles around 3 AM on Tuesday for the valley,” officials said here.

On Monday night, seven pilgrims – six women and a man – were killed and 19 others injured when unidentified gunmen attacked an unescorted bus from Gujarat at Khanabal in Anantnag district on the Srinagar-Jammu highway. The victims were travelling in the bus which was neither part of the escorted yatra convoy nor registered with the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB).

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“The attack occurred at 8:20 PM. All yatra movement which is protected by the security forces on the highway stops at 7 PM after which no movement of pilgrims is officially allowed,” said a senior police officer. The pilgrims had performed the yatra and had boarded the bus at north Kashmir’s Baltal base camp.

The officer said the militants first attacked a police bullet proof bunker at Khanabal and later a police check point. “After retaliation from the police, the militants started firing indiscriminately. The bus of pilgrims, according to police, was caught in the ambush,” a police spokesman said.

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The last known terror attack on Amarnath Yatra was the killing of 30 people, mostly pilgrims, in the base camp in Pahalgam in 2000. The 40-day long yatra started on June 29 and will end on August 07.

So far, nearly 1.4 lakh pilgrims have reached the cave shrine located at 3,888 metres above sea-level. (With Inputs from IANS)

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