SRINAGAR: Security forces have launched a massive hunt to track down Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) commander and Pakistani national Abu Ismail, who has emerged as the mastermind of the deadly attack on Amarnath pilgrims.
Proactive operations have been launched, mainly in south Kashmir, to track down Ismail as investigations including communication intercepts have pointed out to his involvement in the attack on Amarnath pilgrims, a senior police official said.
Seven Amarnath pilgrims, including six women, were killed and 19 injured when terrorists attacked a bus in Kashmir's Anantnag district on Monday evening.
The official said the attack in Anantnag appears to be a reprisal for killing of several Lashkar militants including Bashir Lashkari in an encounter with security forces earlier this month.
"The terrorists are frustrated at the back to back losses suffered by them during counter-insurgency operations over the past month or so and have now resorted to attacking civilians and tourists," he said.
According to the official, Ismail has been active in Kashmir for several years and had moved base to south Kashmir more than a year ago.
The Anantnag attack on Amarnath pilgrims came the same day when police announced arrest of a module of LeT including a Hindu terrorist hailing from Muzaffaranagar area of Uttar Pradesh.
Lashkar has not only distanced itself from the attack on Amarnath pilgrims but also condemned the attack.
LeT spokesman Abdullah Ghaznavi, while condemning the attack on pilgrims, has said, "It is against Islamic teachings".
"The attack on the pilgrims is highly reprehensible act. Islam does not allow violence against any faith," he said.