New Delhi : Four terrorists, two of them Pakistanis, are suspected to have been involved in the attack on Amarnath pilgrims in which seven devotees were killed, home ministry officials said today.
Quoting intelligence inputs, the officials said Pakistani national and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) commander Abu Ismail was the mastermind of Monday's attack and he was assisted by another Pakistani and two local militants.
A massive manhunt has been launched for the four terrorists, who are also believed to have used two motorcycles to escape from the scene after attacking the pilgrims bus, officials said. They said the Gujarat registered bus, which was attacked, reached at Jammu on July 7 and got registered at Amarnath shrine facilitation centre.
Initially, the bus was part of the regular convoy of the pilgrims and travelled together till Baltal. The pilgrims in the bus paid their obeisance at the cave shrine on July 8 and returned. On the way back, the pilgrims left the convoy and drove to Srinagar.
The Gujarati pilgrims stayed in Srinagar for two days as tourists. On July 10, around 4:30 PM, they left Srinagar for Katra. The vehicle got punctured at a place 10 km away from Khanabal around 6:30 PM. Then the passengers went down and had food at a roadside eatery.
When the bus resumed its journey, it came under attack from the terrorists at Khanabal around 2017 hours. Facing the bullets, the driver of the bus, Salim Sheikh, charged past the area but had to face another group of terrorists after crossing just 75 metres.
The driver again did not stop the bus despite facing the terrorist attack for the second time in quick succession. The bus was finally stopped at a police point after a few kilometres and the policemen on duty took the pilgrims to the Anantnag police line where the injured were given first aid before being shifted to a hospital, officials said.