SRINAGAR: In the deadliest terror attack in restive Jammu and Kashmir ever, at least 44 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were killed and more than a dozen others injured on Thursday when a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorist rammed an explosives-laden SUV into their bus in Pulwama district.
The scene of the incident is not very far from the Commando Training Centre at Lethpora, which was stormed by JeM terrorists on December 31, 2017, killing five CRPF personnel.
JeM spokesperson Muhammad Hassan, in a statement issued to a local news agency, said that “dozens of forces’ vehicles were destroyed in the attack”.
Jammu and Kashmir governor Satya Pal Malik pointed the needle of suspicion towards Pakistan. “Visibly it seems to be guided from across the border as JeM has claimed responsibility,” he said.
The National Investigation Agency will probe the attack along with the Jammu and Kashmir police, officials said.
This is the first suicide car bomb strike in Kashmir since the 2001 attack on the J&K Assembly that left 38 people dead.
As soon as the explosion took place, people started running for safety. The shopkeepers at Lethpora market, which is less than 300 metres from the scene of the attack, downed their shutters and fled. The injured were rushed to the Army’s 92-Base hospital in Srinagar’s Badami Bagh Cantonment. Army sources said that the death toll could rise further as the condition of some of the injured CRPF personnel was “critical”.
Condemning the attack, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “The attack on CRPF personnel in Pulwama is despicable. I strongly condemn this dastardly attack. The sacrifices of our brave security personnel shall not go in vain.”