A teenager was killed and 32 others injured when a powerful blast ripped through a crowded bus stand in the heart of Jammu city on Thursday, officials said.
Muhammad Sharik, 17, a resident of Hardiwar, Uttarakhand,who was among 33 people brought to a hospital following the explosion at around11.50am, succumbed to splinter injuries in his chest, they said.
The condition of four otherinjured persons is "critical" and two of them are being operated upon bydoctors in a bid to save their lives, the officials said.
An official source said agrenade was lobbed under a Pathankot-bound Punjab Roadways bus bearingregistration number PB35Q-9697. "The blast was so powerful that it damagedwindowpanes of another bus bearing registration number PB08ED-0792 and a Jammuand Kashmir road transport corporation bus bearing registration numberJK02Y-0536. Following the blast, all damaged vehicles were immediately shiftedand the area was sealed," the source said.
Giving details about theexplosion, Jammu inspector general of police Manish Kumar Sinha said: "At11.50am, there was a grenade blast at general bus stand Jammu, in whichunfortunately we lost one civilian (Muhammad Sharik) while 32 other personswere injured."
The injured persons include11 residents of Kashmir, 10 from Jammu province, nine from other statesincluding Bihar, Chhattisgarh and Haryana, while two persons are yet to beidentified," the IGP said.
He said that as soon asthey came to know about the blast, the police swung into action and along withcivilians evacuated the injured to the government medical college and hospital,where they were treated by the doctors.
"Unfortunately Sharik couldnot survive a surgery that was conducted on him and succumbed," Sinha said.
He said teams of policewere instantly constituted and asked to "go into the evidence available andwork on the leads".
"The teams visited the spotand tried to assess from the witnesses as to what they had seen, while therecording of CCTV cameras installed in the area was also taken into custody,"he said.
"Based on the oraltestimony of the witnesses and the CCTV footages, the police were able toidentify a suspect, who was wearing a jeans jacket and carrying a redrucksack," the IGP said, adding: "An alert was sent to all checkpoints in Jammuto see if any person with the given details is moving out of the wintercapital."
"A team led bysub-divisional police officer Nagrota and station house officer Nagrota, whichwas on a naka duty, apprehended the suspected boy at Ban Toll Plaza, when hewas trying to move out," he said.
The IGP said on hissustained questioning, the accused confessed to his crime and "revealed that hewas tasked with throwing the grenade by Farooq Ahmed Bhat alias Umar, adistrict commander of HizbulMujahideen in Kulgam district."
The accused was identifiedas YasirJavedBhat alias Arhan of Khanpura-Dasan area in Kulgam district ofsouthern Kashmir.
"During his preliminaryinterrogation, the accused revealed that he had started from Kulgam withgrenade yesterday (Thursday) and reached Jammu this morning. We are alsocollecting his past history and details from the local police stations," Sinhasaid.
Earlier, the IGP said thereis always a possibility of someone slipping through despite the heightenedalert.
"Whenever there is aheightened state of alert, we strengthen checking and frisking but there isalways a possibility of someone slipping through and this one seems to be acase like that," the IGP said. Immediately after the explosion, people ran forsafety.
The police parties, alongwith sniffer dogs and forensic experts, rushed to the spot and launched asearch operation to nab the attackers, the officials said.
This is the third grenadeblast in Jammu bus stand in less than a year.
Earlier, on December 28last year, a grenade attack was carried out on the bus stand with the intentionto target a local police station, officials said.
Another grenade attack tookplace along the BC Road and left two policemen and a civilian injured on May24, 2018.
Meanwhile, a NationalInvestigation Agency team Thursday reached Jammu's main bus stand where agrenade attack left one man dead and over 30 others injured, news agency IANSreported.
Quoting "sources in theagency", the report said the NIA team rushed to the spot soon after gettinginformation about the blast that occurred around 11.30am.