Security forces have launched search operations to find suspected Lashkar-e-Taiba militant Abu Ismail, who they believe planned the attack in which seven Amarnath Yatra pilgrims died on Monday. A senior police official told PTI that they were primarily focusing on South Kashmir, where Ismail had moved his base to a year ago.

The official said the July 10 attack in Anantnag was meant to be revenge for the killing of several militants. “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 told the news agency. They added that the arrest of suspected LeT operative Sandeep Kumar Sharma last week may have triggered the attack.

The police said Ismail is a mid-level operative and is also believed to have been involved in ATM robberies in the state.

However, the LeT had denied planning the attack. “The attack on the pilgrims is a highly reprehensible act. Islam does not allow violence against any faith,” outfit spokesperson Abdullah Ghaznavi had said.

Although the Jammu and Kashmir Police had said that Monday’s terror attack on Amarnath Yatra pilgrims in Anantnag district was carried out by the militant organisation, the Centre has not commented on who was behind it.

China’s silence

China, which has been silent on the Amarnath Yatra attack, on Wednesday offered to play a “constructive role” in improving India-Pakistan relations. “The situation in Kashmir has attracted the attention of the international community,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang.

However, China’s silence on the attack has become even more prominent as key Western powers and most of India’s neighbours have condemned the killing of seven pilgrims. China is the only major world power not to have said commented on it.