South Asia

Nine Hindu pilgrims killed in militant attack in Jammu and Kashmir

JAMMU, India — Nine people were killed and 33 injured on Sunday when a bus carrying Hindu pilgrims plunged into a deep gorge following a suspected militant attack in the Indian federal territory of Jammu and Kashmir, police said.

The incident occurred as Narendra Modi was sworn in for a record-equalling third term as prime minister, drawing sharp 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 posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.

The Himalayan region, also claimed by Pakistan, has been plagued by militant violence since the onset of an anti-Indian insurgency in 1989, which has resulted in tens of thousands of deaths, though 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 nine pilgrims and injuring 33,” said Mohita Sharma, district police chief of Reasi.

The last major attack on Hindu pilgrims in the region occurred in 2017 when a bus was targeted, resulting in the deaths of eight people. Sunday’s attack comes a day after police chief R.R. Swain noted that the number of local militants in the territory was decreasing, although 70 to 80 foreign militants remained active.

The injured have been transported to nearby hospitals, and a search for the attackers has been launched, police said in a statement. Earlier reports from a state official indicated that at least 10 pilgrims were feared dead.