J-K bus attack: Second day of combing operation, 20+ detained for questioning

J-K bus attack: Second day of combing operation, 20+ detained for questioning

Jammu: Extensive efforts to track down terrorists involved in the attack on pilgrims in Jammu and Kashmir's Reasi district continued on Tuesday, with 11 teams of security personnel working on the ground and a multi-directional cordon laid around the Poni-Treyath belt, officials said.

Security forces have sounded a high alert in Jammu and Rajouri districts and intensified checking and frisking in the belt following the terror attack that left nine dead and 41 injured, they said.

According to the officials, more than 20 people have been picked up for questioning.

On Sunday, terrorists opened fire at the 53-seater bus carrying pilgrims when it was en route from the Shiv Khori temple to the Mata Vaishno Devi shrine in Katra near Teryath village in the Poni area.

The bus, which was ferrying pilgrims from Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Delhi, plunged into a deep gorge following the gunfire.

Deputy Inspector General of Police, Udhampur-Reasi Range, Rayees Mohammad Bhat said the security forces have got some leads as 11 teams of police, Army and CRPF are jointly working on two different axes to neutralise the fleeing terrorists.

"The search operation is going on today in and around the area (where the attack took place) with 11 teams working on the ground apart from a multi-directional cordon laid around the (Poni-Treyath) belt," another senior police officer said.

The officials said that based on the statements of those injured in the attack, they have not ruled out the possibility of a fourth person being present at the spot who acted as a lookout for the three terrorists.

Sources said security forces suspect the Pakistani terrorists are hiding in the mountainous terrains of Rajouri and Reasi and have intensified combing operations in the region. They are taking directions from Pakistan's ISI through secured communication, the sources said.

There are reports that four terrorists including a local overground worker were involved in the attack which was carried out on the directions of Lashkar-e-Taiba commander Abu Hamza, they said.

Armed with surveillance equipment, including drones, and sniffer dogs, the security personnel launched the massive combing operation on Monday. A chopper was also pressed into service to keep an eye on movement in the area.

Of the 41 people injured in the attack, 10 sustained bullet wounds. Bus driver Vijay Sharma died of multiple bullet wounds. As many as 11 bullet marks were found at various places on the bus, the officials said.

Teams of National Investigation Agency (NIA), State Investigation Agency (SIA) and forensic department visited the attack site and have joined the probe.

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