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Amarnath Yatris Stopped to Shop for Saffron, Then for Cricket Bats

The bus first stopped near Pampore where tourists shopped for saffron, followed by another brief halt at Awantipura where they shopped for cricket bats. The time by then was already 7 pm, according to the source.

Subhajit Sengupta | News18.comSubhajitSG

Updated:July 13, 2017, 3:49 PM IST
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Srinagar: The bus which came under a fatal terror attack in which seven people were killed on Monday was traveling towards Jammu, but three pit stops led to the unfortunate tragedy, a high-level source told News18.

The bus first stopped near Pampore where tourists shopped for saffron, followed by another brief halt at Awantipura where they shopped for cricket bats. The time by then was already 7 pm, according to the source.

A flat tyre, then, forced the driver to take another pit stop, 3km before the Batingu village in Anantnag, where terrorists unleashed the assault on pilgrims. The tyre repair caused a delay of about an hour, and sources say, this is when "some home-grown terrorists" spotted the Gujarat-registered bus.

A terrorist, named Ismail, immediately planned the attack and executed it at a blind spot where no security personnel were present.

Home Ministry officials on Thursday also said that four terrorists, two of them Pakistanis, are suspected to have attacked the bus.

The officials, quoting intelligence inputs, said Pakistani national and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) commander Abu Ismail was the mastermind of Monday's attack. He was assisted by another Pakistani and two local militants.

The Jammu and Kashmir government on Tuesday submitted its report to the home ministry, explaining that the bus had gone astray from the security convoy after having a puncture.

Sources had told CNN-News18 that judging by the sequence of events, the bus was tracked down by terrorists after it stopped to get the tyre repaired.

The security forces also suspected that the operation was carried out jointly by Lashkar-e-Taiba and Hizbul Mujahideen. Ismail arrived on a motorbike and emptied two magazines on pilgrims.

Jammu and Kashmir tourism minister Priya Sethi had told CNN-News18 that the attack could be one of the repercussions of Hizbul commander Burhan Wani's death anniversary this year.

The annual yatra to Amarnath had started on June 29 from Pahalgam and Baltal amid tight security arrangements. Over 6,000 pilgrims were allowed to move towards the shrine from north Kashmir's Baltal base camp while 5,000 pilgrims started moving from the Pahalgam route. A total of 1.5 lakh pilgrims had registered for this year’s yatra. Over 40,000 CRPF personnel were deployed to guard the route.



This year’s yatra was being organised under the “highest-ever multi-tier security setup” as intelligence agencies had warned that militants were planning to target 100 policemen and as many pilgrims participating in the Amarnath Yatra.
| Edited by: Mirza Arif Beg
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