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7 Amarnath pilgrims die in Anantnag terror attack, shutdown call in Jammu

A terrorist strike on a bus carrying pilgrims on the Amarnath Yatra left seven people dead and 19 others injured on Monday night. Traders in Jammu called for a shutdown in the wake of the strike that J&K CM Mehbooba Mufti said had left Kashmiris' heads hanging in shame.

The Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industries declared a shutdown in Jammu today following Monday night's attack on the Amarnath pilgrims. The Jammu bandh call was supported by the opposition National Conference, which called the attack part of a nefarious design to vitiate the secular fabric of Jammu and Kashmir.

The attack happened at around 8.20 pm near Khanabal Anantnag district where terrorists first attacked two police posts before fleeing and then opening fire at the bus that was carrying a group of pilgrims who had finished the Amarnath Yatra two days ago.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti, who spent the night in Anantnag among the survivors of the attack, decried the terrorist strike, saying Kashmiris' heads hang in shame.

Zulfiqar Hasan, IG (Operations) for the Central Reserve Police Force visited the attack site today morning and confirmed that the Amarnath Yatra will continue. "We will ensure that it goes on peacefully," Hasan said, adding that the Jammu and Kashmir police is investigating Monday night's attack on the bus.

The attack on the bus (GJ 09 Z 9976) was part of a series of strikes that first targeted security personnel. Terrorists first fired upon a bullet-proof police bunker in Botengoo. When they faced resistance, the militants fled and subsequently attacked a police picket near Khannabal.

There, they opened indiscriminate fire after policemen posted at the picket retaliated to the attack. It was then that the bus, which was from Gujarat, came under the terrorists' fire, leading to the deaths of seven pilgrims - five from Gujarat and two from Maharashtra.

The deceased from Gujarat were identified as Hasuben Ratila Patal, Surakha Ben and Lakshimiben S Patal from Valsad, Ratan Zeena Bhai Patal of Daman and Prajapati Champaben of Navsari. Those from Maharashtra were Nirmala Ben Thakor, a resident of Palghar, and Usha Mohanla Sonkar of Danu.

The 19 others who suffered injuries in the attack were said to be stable were moved to the Army Base Hospital in Srinagar. Authorities were in the process of airlifting them to New Delhi from Srinagar.