Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|07/23/01 at 23:30:16|
SRINAGAR, India (AP) - Authorities suspended an annual Hindu pilgrimage in the Himalayas after Islamic militants attacked devotees with hand grenades, killing 14 people in the troubled province of Jammu-Kashmir on Saturday, police said.
Seven pilgrims, two police officers guarding the route, four porters and one militant, dressed as a Hindu priest in saffron-coloured robes, were killed, said an officer at the police control room, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Fifteen others were wounded when the two hand grenades exploded simultaneously as pilgrims trudged up to the Amarnath shrine located at an elevation of 4,000 metres, said K.‚B. Jandiyal, the spokesman for Jammu-Kashmir state.
The attack took place 20 kilometres from the cave that houses an icy stalagmite worshipped as an incarnation of the Hindu God Shiva. Pilgrims take buses or cars for most of the way and hike the final stretch to the cave. The journey takes several days. Children and elderly pilgrims use ponies and wooden palanquins for the last lap.
The government immediately halted the pilgrimage and police stopped nearly 15,000 pilgrims at the base camp at Pahalgam, a resort town 100 kilometres south of Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu-Kashmir state.
It was not immediately clear if the pilgrims would be allowed to resume their journey later.
Police blamed the attack on Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, a Pakistan-based militant group fighting for Kashmir's independence from India. No group has claimed responsibility.
India and Pakistan have competing claims over Kashmir, and the two South Asian nuclear rivals have fought two wars over it. New Delhi accuses Islamabad of arming and training separatist guerrillas. Islamic Pakistan says it only provides moral and diplomatic backing to the independence struggle of Kashmiri Muslims who want to end predominantly Hindu India's control on the region.
The attack came five days after a summit between Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Pakistan's President Gen. Pervez Musharraf.
After the talks broke down without an agreement, several guerrilla groups, including the Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, threatened to step up attacks in Kashmir.
Expecting violence this year, authorities had deployed nearly 15,000 security personnel along the 320-kilometre route from Jammu to the Amarnath cave. Last year, Kashmiri rebels massacred 31 pilgrims.
More than 100,000 Hindus have already performed the pilgrimage since the cave was opened early this month. Another 50,000 pilgrims were expected to visit the cave by Aug. 4, when the pilgrimage ends.
More than 60,000 people in Kashmir have been killed since the insurgency erupted in 1989.
- Toronto Star, July 21
This was updated yesterday... the group claims responsibility for the attack,
the pilgrims are mostly seniors and families...
last year, as the update in the article writes, on the same spot something like 20 pilgrims were killed and 80 more that day elsewhere...
you want to know the worst part? four of those porters were muslims who were just trying to feed their families...
That's what has to change...
That's what some muslims are doing wrong... I hope we can make dua for this dilemma. asalaamu alaikum. abdullah,.
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