A teenager was killed and 32 others were injured Thursday in a grenade attack in the crowded general bus stand area in the heart of the city with the attacker suspected to have links with Hizbul Mujahideen arrested in this connection, police said.
Mohammad Sharik, 17, a resident of Hardiwar in Uttarakhand, who was among 33 people brought to the hospital, succumbed to splinter injuries, they said.
Addressing a press conference in the evening, IGP Jammu M K Sinha said Yasin Javid Bhat was nabbed by a police party at toll plaza in Nagrota.
He was in contact with Farooq Ahmad Bhat, district commander of Hizbul Mujahideen in Kulgam, Sinha said, adding he was arrested on basis of CCTV footage and testimony by eyewitnesses.
During questioning, Bhat said he had procured the grenade from Farooq Bhat in Kulgam and reached Jammu in the morning, he said.
This is the third grenade attack in Jammu bus stand since May last year, viewed by security agencies as an attempt to disturb communal harmony and peace in the city.
The condition of four more injured persons was “critical” and two of them were operated upon by the doctors to save their lives, they said.
The injured included 11 residents of Kashmir, two from Bihar and one each from Chhattisgarh and Haryana, the officials said.
Sinha said preliminary investigation suggested that someone lobbed the grenade in the bus stand area around noon, causing the explosion.
The scene of the blast along B C Road was sealed off by police and a massive hunt was launched to nab the grenade thrower, Sinha, who immediately rushed to the scene to take stock of the situation, said.
A parked bus of the state road transport corporation (SRTC) suffered extensive damage in the blast which caused panic among the people.
“Whenever there is heightened state of alert, we strengthen checking and frisking but there is always a possibility of someone slipping through and this one seems to be a case like that,” the IGP said.
The officer said there was no specific input about such an attack in the city.
“General inputs are always there and the deployments have been made. We are working on the leads all the time whenever we get inputs but there was nothing specific about this,” Sinha said.
“Obviously the intention is always to disturb the communal harmony and peace,” he said and requested the people to maintain calm.
Immediately after the explosion, people ran to safety and later as the situation returned to normal evacuated the injured to the hospital.
Police parties along with sniffer dogs and forensic experts rushed to the spot and had launched a search operation, the officials said.
Earlier on December 28-29 last year, suspected militants carried out a grenade attack on the bus stand with the intention to target the local police station building, an attack which took place seven months after another grenade attack along the B C Road left two policemen and a civilian injured on May 24, 2018.
“The blast occurred on the roadside when there was huge rush of people. I had come to drop my wife who was going to board a bus to Punjab,” one of the injured, Kuldeep Singh of the Pragwal area of the city, said.
Singh, who is undergoing treatment along with his wife at Government Medical College hospital for injuries, said he felt that somebody hurled something which caused the powerful explosion.