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NIA team in Pulwama works mystery of deadly 15-km stretch on NH 44, which saw most attacks since 2013

An NIA team, which reached Awantipora on Friday to assist the Jammu and Kashmir Police in conducting forensic evaluation of the Pulwama attack site, are also trying to determine why the 15-kilometre stretch of the National Highway has become a repeat target of terrorists in the region.

This comes after nearly 40 CRPF personnel were killed on Thursday when their convoy was targeted in Pulwama district on the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway. The convoy comprised 78 buses in which around 2,500 personnel were travelling from Jammu to Srinagar.

The portion of the highway which stretches from Pampore to Awantipora has proven particularly vulnerable for security forces travelling through the area on multiple occasions, reported The Indian Express.

Fifty-six of the 58 Indian soldiers, who have lost their lives to militant attacks since 2013, died while travelling through this particular stretch on the National Highway. In 2013, militants mounted two attacks on Road Opening Parties (ROP) in which two CRPF personnel were killed in the area.

 NIA team in Pulwama works mystery of deadly 15-km stretch on NH 44, which saw most attacks since 2013

The site of the attack in Pulwama. PTI

In 2015, three militant attacks were carried out on the National Highway in which two Border Security Forces (BSF) personnel and two CRPF personnel were killed, reported News18. In 2016, four major attacks on the stretch killed eight soldiers. In 2018, two were killed.

The attack on Amarnath yatris in 2017, which killed seven, also took place on this stretch.

In addition to conducting forensic examination at the site of the explosion, the NIA team, reported the newspaper, also spoke to Jammu and Kashmir police officers and CRPF members who were part of the convoy that was targeted by suicide bomber Adil Ahmed Dhar, of the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM).

Agencies have also taken tower dumps of the attack area to filter out suspicious calls and those made in around the same time as the attack. Tower dumps are a system through which investigative agencies or law enforcement officials locate cell towers near a crime scene and access all call, text, and data transmissions that occurred during the crime to establish a chain of communication.

Considering the status of the investigation, the team are likely to continue with the sifting of material from the site on Saturday as well.

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Updated Date: Feb 16, 2019 12:35:57 IST