Nine Hindu pilgrims dead in India’s Jammu after militant attack, police say

SRINAGAR (Reuters) -At least nine people were killed and 33 injured when a bus carrying Hindu pilgrims plunged into a deep gorge after a suspected militant attack in the Indian federal territory of Jammu and Kashmir on Sunday, police said.

News of the attack came as Narendra Modi took oath as prime minister for a record-equalling third term and drew criticism from the main opposition Congress party.

“This shameful incident is the true picture of the worrying security situation in Jammu and Kashmir,” opposition leader Rahul Gandhi said on X.

The Himalayan region, which is also claimed by Pakistan, has been roiled by militant violence since the start of an anti-Indian insurgency in 1989. Tens of thousands of people have been killed, although violence has tapered off in recent years.

“Militants ambushed the bus and fired at it indiscriminately. The bus fell into a gorge, leading to the death of 9 pilgrims, and 33 are injured,” said Mohita Sharma, district police chief of Reasi.

The last major attack on Hindu pilgrims in the region happened in 2017 when a bus was targeted, killing eight people.

Sunday’s attack comes a day after police chief RR Swain said the number of local militants in the territory was dropping but 70-80 foreign militants remained active.

The injured have been moved to nearby hospitals and a search for the attackers has been launched, police said in a statement.

A state official earlier said at least 10 pilgrims were feared dead.

(Reporting by Fayaz Bukhari in Srinagar; Writing by Chris Thomas; Editing by YP Rajesh and Alexander Smith)

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