Amarnath Yatra Attack: US condemns cowardly attack, vows to combat terror

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Six Hindu pilgrims, majority women, were killed in a gun battle that erupted in Indian Kashmir on July 10 following two militant attacks on police.

A memo that was circulated to regional police, military and paramilitary units two weeks ago indicates Indian security officials had been expecting an attack. The base camps have been under severe threat of terrorist attacks for decades.

The bus full of pilgrims was 600 metres away from the police check-post an was encircled by the terrorists from three sides.

Strongly condemning the terror attack targeting a bus of pilgrims, Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani said, "being enemies of civilisation and humanity, terrorists don't respect any religion and law but in order to disseminate terror and hate, they target sacred locations and civilians including women and children".

The Press Trust of India said the terrorists - it is not clear how many there were - first opened fire an armoured police auto whose occupants fired back. "The bus of pilgrims, according to police, was caught in the ambush", a police spokesman said.

The number of paramilitary personnel deployed this year has increased by 9,500. The bus driver Salim has been praised and rewarded for driving the bus out of the terrorists' range, after the initial burst of firing. Reportedly, the bus was neither a part of a convoy nor registered with the shrine board.

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The UK's acting High Commissioner to India, Alexander Evans, also condemned the attack.

They demanded an independent investigation into the attack.

He claimed that the role on sleeper cells of the Lashkar-e-Taiba or the Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence operating outside the state can not be ruled out. India also blames the group for a 2008 attack that left 166 people dead in India's commercial capital of Mumbai.

"We are going to have a security meeting late this evening and we will come back with whatever conclusions are drawn", he said. The Jammu - Srinagar highway has been covered with security troops and strict orders have been imposed for the security troops to attack the terrorists if any attacks have been located.

In the Hindu-dominated Jammu region of the Indian state, saffron-clad members of the right-wing Bajrang Dal group stopped cars to enforce a strike in memory of the pilgrims.

"My two brothers are studying in India", school teacher Shagufta Kaunsar said. "I do not know how I got the strength to go on at that time". A report to this effect has been submitted to the Union Home Ministry.