July 2001 News

Blasts, firing kill 13 near Amarnath

21 July 2001
The Statesman

Jammu: Thirteen people, including six Amarnath pilgrims, were killed as suspected militants set off two improvised explosive devices and clashed with security forces at Sheshnag, 19 km from the shrine. In the pre-dawn attack penetrating the four-tier security for the pilgrims, two police officers, four porters and a suspected militant were killed and 14, including eight pilgrims, injured. Three of the six pilgrims have been identified as Asim Ghosh and Surojit Konar (from West Bengal) and Tuka Ram Kore (Maharashtra), a spokesman said. Suspected militants triggered a powerful IED half a km from a police camp at Sheshnag around 3 a.m. As the police camp in-charge, DSP Parveen Kumar Sharma, ASI Mohammad Safi Akbar and some pilgrims rushed to the blast site, another explosion took place followed by intense firing resulting in the death of the two police officers and injury to six people. Militants hiding in the area fired around 7 a.m. again while trying to escape, causing more casualties. The bombs were triggered by two militants, who dressed as sadhus had infiltrated the security lines. Securitymen are still searching for one. Though the yatra was suspended for a day today, it will be resumed early tomorrow morning. The BSF has sent reinforcements to Sheshnag. Helicopters will lift the injured to Pahalgam. The pilgrims have been stopped at base camps at Pahalgam, Nunwan and Chandanwadi. Armymen have cordoned the area and a massive search has begun. The Governor, Mr Girish Chandra Saxena, also Shri Amarnath Shrine Board chairman, has rushed to the spot. Central team: The Centre will send a two-member team to Srinagar and Sheshnag tomorrow for an on-spot assessment of the situation. Mr LK Advani said the government would deal firmly with militant outfits operating from across the border. He directed the minister of state for home, Mr ID Swami, and the special secretary in the ministry looking after J&K affairs, Mr AK Bhandari, to visit Srinagar and Sheshnag. The team is expected to return to Delhi on Monday and submit a report to the home minister, officials said. Abdullah condemns: Dr Farooq Abdullah today condemned the killings and said the act demonstrated the ruthlessness of those having no regard for human values and people of J&K.


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