Terrorists Hit J&K Hotel, 4 Tourists Die
12 June 2004
The Asian Age
Srinagar: In an apparent attempt to deter tourists from flocking to the picturesque Kashmir Valley, terrorists struck in the popular resort of Pahalgam on Saturday, carrying out a grenade attack inside a hotel in which four tourists, including a seven-year-old girl, were killed. Nineteen others, including a local resident, were also injured in the attack which took place at around 4.30 pm. The hotel was packed with tourists when the explosion took place, officials said. Two of the killed, Danish and Mustakam, were halwais (confectioners) from Uttar Pradesh, the officials said. The third person killed in the explosion was Bahvesh Chanderkant of Mumbai, while the identity of the girl is not yet known. Of the injured, three were in critical condition, the officials said. Security forces immediately cordoned off the area as the incident sparked panic among the tourists. Pahalgam, the state's premier tourist resort, is 96 km from here. Initial reports said the blast was caused by bursting of a gas cylinder but the recovery of safety pin near the scene proved it was a grenade explosion, the officials said. The attack took place at a time when tourists are flocking to the Valley. A militant outfit, Al-Nasreen, has claimed responsibility for the attack. It said the attack was carried out by 'our activists' to 'warn tourists not to visit Jammu and Kashmir,' a caller identifying himself as a spokesman of the outfit told PTI over the telephone. The caller added: 'The tourists are spreading vulgarity in the state, which the militants cannot tolerate.' Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed strongly condemned the attack, and said it was part of 'a conspiracy to target Kashmir's interests and its people and to tarnish the state's image.' The IGP (Kashmir Range), Mr K. Rajendra Kumar, said the grenade had exploded inside the dining hall of Purnima Hotel. The 23 persons who were reported injured initially - 22 tourists and a local resident - were rushed to hospitals in Anantnag and Srinagar, but four of them succumbed on the way. The Kashmir Valley has been receiving an unprecedented rush of domestic tourists lately and Pahalgam is one of the most heavily frequented resorts. Official statistics say the number of tourist arrivals has already crossed the 100,000 mark this year. Saturday's bloody incident, however, is likely to scare away quite a few of them and affect future arrivals.