Explosive-laden vehicle rams into bus, kills 44 Jawans

Last Updated 15 February 2019, 02:03 IST

In worst causalities suffered by the security forces in peacetime operations, 44 CRPF personnel were killed and several others wounded when a ‘fidayeen’ (suicide) bomber rammed his vehicle packed with explosives into a paramilitary bus they were travelling in on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway on Thursday.

More than 2,500 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel, many of them returning from leave to re-join duty in the Valley, were travelling in the convoy of 78 vehicles when they were ambushed by the Jaish terrorists on the highway near Awantipora.

“A total of 44 CRPF men belonging to different battalions were travelling in the vehicle when the blast occurred,” a CRPF official said and added 42 personnel were killed while two others were critically wounded in the attack.

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Indian soldiers examine the debris after an explosion in Lethpora
in south Kashmir's Pulwama district February 14, 2019. REUTERS/Younis Khaliq

Reports said that around 3:15 pm, militants rammed a car fitted with explosives into a CRPF convoy, which reduced the bus to a mangled heap of iron. Body parts could be strewn around the area. The casualties are likely to go up. The site of the attack resembled a war zone with body parts and vehicle debris strewn about.

Police identified the 'fidayeen' as Adil Ahmad from Kakapora in Pulwama who had joined the Jaish in 2018. Video footage from the area showed people running for cover as smoke billowed from the remains of a CRPF vehicle hit by the blast.

Pakistan-based Jaish-e- Moahammad (JeM) terror outfit claimed responsibility for the attack and released a video clip of the suicide bomber which it claimed was shot before the young man carried out the audacious attack in Lethpora, about 30 km from here. In the video, Dar can be seen brandishing rifles and standing in front of the Jaish banners

State police chief Dilbag Singh said it could have been a suicide attack. This is the highest number of causalities suffered by the security forces in a single attack in Jammu and Kashmir in the last 29-years of insurgency .

On 18 September 2016, in one of the worst causalities suffered by the Army in peacetime operations, 18 troopers were killed and 18 others injured as a group of fidayeen (suicide) militants stormed a strategic military base in north Kashmir’s Uri.

Soon after the deadly attack a red alert was sounded across Kashmir, including Srinagar, to prevent further such attacks. “This is a routine after such attacks,” a CRPF official said. He said that security installations across Kashmir have been asked to stay alert and to maintain extra vigil to thwart such bids.

In Delhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemned the terror attack. “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,” he was quoted as saying by ANI.

(Published 14 February 2019, 11:34 IST)

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