Militant Attack in Kashmir Kills 9, Injures 33

Militant Attack in Kashmir Kills 9, Injures 33
Militant Attack in Kashmir Kills 9, Injures 33

An attack by unidentified militants in the Indian-controlled portion of the restive Himalayan region of Kashmir left nine people dead and 33 others injured, police said. Suspected terrorists opened fire on a bus carrying Hindu pilgrims, making the driver lose control and sending the bus plunging into a gorge in the mountainous region, district police said.

The bus was on its way to the famous Hindu shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi, in the Katra region, when it came under fire on a mountain road.

Police and paramilitary forces had wrapped up search and rescue operations, but the hunt for the attackers continued.

No group claimed responsibility for the attack, but the district police said militants had "ambushed the bus."

"Around 6 pm, militants fired upon the bus," Mohita Sharma, Senior Superintendent of Police for the Jammu and Kashmir region's Reasi district, told media. "The driver lost control, resulting in the bus going down into the gorge."

She said at least two militants were believed to have fled after the attack and that a manhunt was underway.

Indian officials said Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was sworn in for his third consecutive term in office just hours before the attack, had taken "stock of the situation" and asked for the best medical care for those injured. The election campaign was marked by Hindu-Muslim sectarian divisions that opponents of Modi's Hindu nationalist BJP party accused him of exploiting for political gain.

An armed conflict between Pakistan-backed Muslim militant groups and Indian military forces has simmered for more than 60 years in Kashmir, with regular small-scale violence and occasional flare-ups that have left tens of thousands of people dead.

Nuclear-armed neighbors India and Pakistan have fought two wars over the predominantly Muslim Kashmir region. While administration of the area is divided between the countries, they both claim full ownership.