A bus carrying Hindu devotees was attacked, killing ten people, including a child The damaged bus after attack by suspected terrorists, in Reasi district of Jammu and Kashmir, India on June 9, 2024. © X/TheYouthPlus

Ten Indians lost their lives and 33 others sustained injuries on Sunday evening when terrorists opened fire on a bus carrying Hindu pilgrims returning from the Shiv Khori temple in the Jammu and Kashmir region bordering Pakistan.

The indiscriminate shooting caused the driver to lose control, resulting in the bus plunging into a deep gorge.

Local media reported, citing Reasi Senior Superintendent of Police Mohita Sharma, that the passengers were from other parts of India, and they have yet to be identified. Rescue works were carried out on Sunday evening with the assistance of people present at the site of the incident. The injured pilgrims were rushed to hospitals in regional centers for treatment.

The attack occurred just as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and 71 ministers were taking the oaths of office at a ceremony in New Delhi. After it concluded, Modi, along with President Droupadi Murmu, Home Minister Amit Shah, and leaders of key political parties, condemned the attack.

Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha said the prime minister directed him to continuously monitor the situation and ensure all possible aid to the affected families.

Security has been strengthened in the area, India Today reported, citing official sources. The National Investigation Agency has been tasked with probing the attack. A joint operation headquarters comprising the police, army, and the Central Reserve Police Force was established at the site to launch an operation to apprehend the attackers.

Sunday’s attack was a grim reminder of a similar incident that unfolded on July 10, 2017, when a bus transporting pilgrims from the state of Gujarat came under heavy gunfire in Jammu and Kashmir. The driver managed to save 52 passengers, though seven pilgrims were killed and 19 were wounded.

While the security situation has improved overall in Jammu and Kashmir, a Muslim-majority region which has been disputed between India and Pakistan since the end of British colonial rule in 1947, in the past few years, combatting terrorism in the region has been a key priority for New Delhi.

“There is a significant improvement in the overall security situation in J&K. Terrorists don’t hide in houses, they take shelter in caves, forests, and have very, very limited people supporting them. We will deal with it effectively. A strategy has been devised and can’t be discussed in public,” Jammu and Kashmir Director General of Police R.R. Swain said last year, addressing the media. The military and security forces are constantly conducting operations to identify and drive out terrorists hiding in the forested areas.

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