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Seven Amarnath Yatris killed in terror attack

Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani and his deputy Nitin Patel interact with Salim Sheikh driver of the bus and survivors of the Amarnath attack at the airport in Surat

In yet another case of terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir, at least two Amarnath Yatra pilgrims were killed today and four others were left injured. One of those injured is in a critical state.

Calling the attack as most reprehensible, Defence Minister Arun Jaitley said the incident should add to "our determination to eliminate terrorism".

The bus bearing the registration number GJ09Z 9976 was attacked at around 8.20 pm near Khanabal when it was on its way to Jammu, police said. Internet services in Kashmir have been blocked after the attack.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a series of tweets, "Pained beyond words on the dastardly attack on peaceful Amarnath Yatris in J&K".

Strongly condemning the attack Chief Minister said time has come for every right thinking Kashmiri to rise against this macabre menace before it devours everybody around. Sources said that they suspect that the terrorists were present on both sides. The Jammu-Srinagar Highway has been closed after the attack.

The procession winds through a part of the disputed territory of Kashmir where Muslim separatists have attacked Hindus in the past, prompting thousands of Indian soldiers and police officers to be deployed along the pilgrims' path to provide protection. When the police fired back, the militants fled, firing indiscriminately, the official added.

Police said they had caught Sharma, only by a matter of chance, as they were conducting search operations near the house where Lashkar commander Bashir Lashkari was killed in an encounter. Batengoo is 65 km south of Srinagar.

Immediately after the militant attack, police, CRPF and army men and officials reached the spot to take stock of the situation.

Thirty-two other pilgrims were injured in the attack.

According to CNN-News18, the police were escorting the pilgrims when the militants opened fire. The families in the bus were travelling on their own. This led to the higher casualty rate, the police also said.

The bus had not been registered w ith the Amarnath board, which is why it did not have adequate security cover.

Police said the bus was not a part of the yatra convoy which is being provided elaborate security. "We must pray for those injured", Abdullah told NDTV.