At least 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel in Jammu and Kashmir were killed when the two buses they were travelling on became the target of a suicide bombing. The buses were part of a larger convoy of paramilitary vehicles travelling along the highway in south Kashmir's Pulwama district on Thursday. According to police officials on the spot, mangled bodies of paramilitary personnel were scattered along the highway. Paramilitary officials said the Indian Army's 92 Base Hospital was overwhelmed by the number of injured being brought in.
The convoy was attacked at a short distance from their starting point, the group centre in Lethpora and was on its way to a battalion station in Srinagar’s Nishat area. Police officials, not authorised to speak to the press, said the attacker rammed an explosive-laden vehicle into the buses, avoiding the bulletproof and armored vehicles.
The Pakistan-based jihadist outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad claimed an SUV laden with 350 kilograms of explosives struck the middle of the convoy. The attack was condemned by unionist politicians in Jammu and Kashmir. The National Conference's Omar Abdullah while condemning the attack, wrote on Twitter: "Jaish has claimed the blast as a suicide (fidaeen) attack reminiscent of the dark days of militancy pre 2004-05". Former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti,on Twitter, termed the bombings as a "gruesome terror attack". Home Minister Rajnath Singh is scheduled to visit Srinagar tomorrow.
ANI quoted Prime Minister Narendra Modi as saying, "Attack on CRPF personnel in Pulwama is despicable. I strongly condemn this dastardly attack. Sacrifices of our brave security personnel shall not go in vain. The entire nation stands shoulder to shoulder with the families of the brave martyrs. May the injured recover quickly". This is the first suicide bombing to have been carried out in the past decade.
The JeM identified the suicide bomber as a local Kashmiri jihadist Adil Ahmad Dar, a resident of Gundibagh, Kakapora in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district. Shortly after the attack, the JeM released a video statement by Dar claiming responsibility for the attack. In the video, Dar praised Kashmiris for their fighting spirit and stated that India has failed to suppress the Kashmiri people by force. He further cautioned the youth stating that “your enemy (India) is not only an enemy to your freedom and life but also your faith”.
Listing other major attacks in India by the JeM, Dar said the "deep wounds" caused by them had not yet healed. Dar mentioned IC-184 hijacking, “freeing brains" from the "heads of your parliamentarians” in a reference to the Parliament attack of 2001. “There are many more nightmares that will continue to ruin your sleep, God willing,” he warned. Dar implored youth to join the JeM for "a final push" to "break the shackles of slavery".
The Badami Bagh cantonment in Srinagar was previously attacked by suicide bombers twice, including one by a young Kashmiri jihadist, the Assembly complex in Srinagar was also attacked by the JeM in October 2001, which killed 38 persons. In August 2000, a car bomb on the prominent Residency Road in Srinagar’s commercial hub claimed the lives of 13, including civilians.
On Wednesday, more than a dozen students were injured when an explosive was set off in a school in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district. On 12 February, a 15-year-old was killed in a blast inside a shop in north Kashmir’s Kupwara district. Police officials believe IEDs were accidentally set off in both instances and cite apprehensions of further impending bombings.
The scale of the attack is comparable to the scale of violence in states affected by Naxal violence. Thursday's attack is the bloodiest in Kashmir's three-decade violence. In contrast, the September 2016 attack on an army installation in north Kashmir's Uri, close to the line of control separating Indian and Pakistani territories, claimed the lives of 19 soldiers and resulted in diplomatic tensions between India and Pakistan and a military retaliation from the Indian side, now known as the "surgical strikes".
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Updated Date: Feb 14, 2019 20:51:26 IST