| A soldier stands guard at the blast site. (Reuters)
Srinagar, Nov. 23: Chief minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed’s healing-touch policy took a blow the second day on the trot with militants blasting a bus ferrying soldiers and their families on a highway.
Twelve people lost their lives in the explosion on the strategic Srinagar-Jammu highway a day after a suicide squad stormed a security camp in the heart of the city and killed six CRPF jawans.The dead included eight soldiers, two women and two children.
Police said militants set off an improvised explosive device when the public transport vehicle, hired by the army to carry a convoy of soldiers and their families to Jammu, reached Lower Manda in Anantnag, 75 km from Srinagar.
The blast flung the bus several hundred metres down a gorge, killing seven persons instantly and seriously wounding 28. Many were missing till late at night. Rescue teams rushed to the spot soon after and began pulling out victims. Police said the bodies of three soldiers were recovered in the afternoon and added the toll was likely to go up.
Army sources said the seriously injured had been airlifted to the army hospital in the cantonment area of Srinagar. Two women died in hospital.
“The bus rolled down into a 300-foot gorge under the impact of the blast,” Ghulam Hassan Bhat, a senior police officer in south Kashmir, said. “It also damaged a private truck. Further details are awaited.”
Vehicular traffic was suspended on the highway for several hours as rescue teams scoured the area for victims. The Hizb-ul Mujahideen and the Al-Badr called up local news agencies and took responsibility for the attack.
Militants kept up their heat elsewhere also, attacking the mororcade of minister for rural development Peerzada Mohammad Sayeed in Anantnag late at night. The militants opened fire from automatic weapons from a distance, DIG (South Kashmir) Amin Anjum said. No one was injured.
Two prominent National Conference activists were gunned down in the old city.
Rifle grenades were also fired at the BSF headquarters in the Karan Nagar locality in the capital. While two exploded on the road outside the hub, one went off inside the complex but did not cause any serious damage.
A police party was targeted near the exhibition crossing, resulting in the death of one policemen.
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