Two terrorists on Wednesday afternoon attacked the Tourist Reception Centre in Srinagar, where passengers scheduled to travel by the inaugural Srinagar-Muzaffarabad bus on Thursday, were put up. The attack left 13 people injured and destroyed the TRC building.
The bus, considered a big step in India-Pakistan peace process, is scheduled to be flagged off by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Just hours after the attack, Dr Singh confirmed he will be Srinagar on Thursday.
The terrorists first fired upon the two buses to be flagged off by Dr Singh for Muzaffarabad and then entered the Tourist Centre.
As the intruders were engaged by the security forces, the TRC building caught fire.
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Both militants were killed after after a sustained exchange of fire.
All 24 bus passengers were evacuated safely and taken to the high-security Centaur Lake View Hotel on the banks of Dal Lake some distance away from Raj Bhavan.
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Ghulam Mohammad, who was driving one of the buses that came under attack, said: "I was trying to negotiate a turn when firing started. We somehow managed to take the buses away from the encounter site."
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Thirteen people, including two State Road Transport Corporation employees, four Tourist Centre employees, one cop and a fireman were injured in the firing.
Four militant outfits -- who had earlier issued a joint statement threatening to attack the bus -- claimed responsibility for the attack.
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In Delhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh condemned the attack and confimed that he will be in Srinagar to flag the Indo-Pak bus off on Thursday.
Dr Singh will be accompanied by Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil and External Affairs Minister Natwar Singh.
In Islamabad, Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman Jalil Abbas Jilani reminded militants that the bus service is just a humanitarian gesture to reunite divided families. "We strongly condemn this attack. The innocent travellers have committed no crime," he said.
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With inputs from Mukhtar Ahmed in Srinagar