Amarnath pilgrims on a bus from the cave shrine might have escaped yesterday's terrorist attack had a flat tyre not stalled the vehicle, officials said here today. The bus with 60 pilgrims had started its journey from Srinagar around 5 PM and was expected to cover a distance of 100 kilometres to reach their destination, Jammu, before 7 PM, they said. However, the driver discovered a puncture at Sangam, some 50 kms from the capital city, forcing him to stop on the road to change the tyre, they said. The flat tyre delayed the journey of the bus -- with the licence plate GJ09Z 9976 -- by one hour, leaving it open to the security risk of travelling on the National Highway after 7 PM. Security forces cover the national highway from 4 AM to 7 PM for the Amarnath yatra as there are definite time schedules for the movement of vehicles carrying pilgrims from Jammu to Kashmir and vice versa, the officials said. The bus was attacked by two teams of terrorists on motor-cycles near Khanabal. This is the second major attack on Amarnath pilgrims.
In August 2000, 30 pilgrims were killed during an encounter between security forces and Lashker-e-Taiba terrorists.