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August 1, 2000
Militants attack Amarnath yatra office in Jammu
Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar
Militants on Tuesday afternoon attacked the heavily guarded office in Jammu City where Amarnath-bound pilgrims are registered.
This is the first time the extremists have struck in the heart of Jammu. In the subsequent gun battle, one militant was killed.
Troops moved in and joined police and paramilitary personnel in searching the area. Police sources in Srinagar said two of the attackers are still believed to be hiding in the grass nearby.
The militants opened fire with automatic weapons on the registration centre. Luckily, witnesses said, a police sub-inspector spotted one militant who was trying to force his entry into the office located in the higher secondary school building and shot him.
"There were nearly 300 pilgrims in the office when the militants struck," a source said. The shooting caused them to panic and flee for cover.
A senior police officer said no one was injured. Senior police and security force officers immediately rushed to the spot. The building was encircled and searched.
Tuesday's attack followed the fidayeen (suicide) attack on a transit camp of the army at Bandipora on Monday. Seven soldiers were killed and six others wounded in that incident.
The Lashkar-e-Toiba has claimed responsibility for the attack. Following the spurt in attacks by militants, security has been tightened across the State.
The army and paramilitary forces deployed in Kashmir have suspended operations against the Hizbul Mujahideen, which announced a unilateral ceasefire on July 24. But operations against the other groups are continuing.
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