Kashmir: 44 CRPF troopers killed in Jaish-claimed suicide attack on convoy
The suicide bomber, Adil Ahmad from Kakapora in Pulwama district of South Kashmir, according to to police, had joined the militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad in 2018
As many as 44 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel died and several others injured in Thursday’s suicide attack on their convoy on the National Highway in Lethpora town in Pulwama district of South Kashmir, about 30 km from Srinagar.
The suicide bomber, according to police, rammed a Scorpio vehicle carrying over 100 kg of explosives into a 55-seater CRPF bus. The ill-fated bus was a part of a convoy of 78 CRPF vehicles, travelling from Jammu to Srinagar. Many of them returning from leave to rejoin duty in the Valley.
The bus that was the focus of the attack belongs to the 76th battalion of the force.
The powerful explosion, which reduced the bus to a mangled heap of iron, was heard many kilometres away, including in some parts of Srinagar adjoining Pulwama district. According to the eyewitness, body parts could be seen strewn around the area.
The CRPF has refused to give an exact number for those injured even though some of them are said to be critical. “The bodies are dismembered and mutilated making it difficult for doctors to give the exact number of casualties,” a senior security establishment official told PTI in Delhi.
Pakistan based militant outfit Jaish-e-Muhammad (JeM) claimed responsibility for the attack, the biggest ever suicide attack on security forces in the Valley in past two decades. A JeM spokesperson, Muhammad Hassan, in a statement issued to a local news agency in Srinagar has identified the militant who carried the suicide attack as Aadil Ahmad.
While the militant group claimed the suicide bomber drove the SUV carrying 350 kg of explosives, security agencies dismissed the claim as a mere propaganda.
Police also identified the suicide bomber as Aadil Ahmad Dhar alias Waqar, stating that he was a resident of Kakapora in Pulwama. He had reportedly joined militancy a few months ago in 2018. He was driving the vehicle packed with explosives on the wrong side of the road and hit the CRPF bus head-on, according to police.
According to reports, some 2,547 CRPF Jawans were travelling from a transit camp in Jammu to Srinagar, when the bus carrying as many as 45 CRPF personnel was ambushed on the Srinagar-Jammu highway at around 3.15 pm.
“It was a large convoy and about 2,500 personnel were travelling in multiple vehicles. Some shots were also fired at the convoy,” CRPF DG RR Bhatnagar told PTI.
“This is the biggest and the worst attacks in past two decades,” a police official told National Herald. Previously, the same militant outfit carried similar kind of car bomb attack in 2001 outside the Assembly building in Srinagar, in which as many as 38 civilians were killed and 40 more were injured. Earlier in May, 2000 a car bomb blast had occurred at the main gate of Badami Bagh Army headquarters in Srinagar.
In the attack on the Uri military base in September 2016, JeM militants had killed 18 Army jawans and injured dozens of others.
Governor Malik condemned the attack. A Raj Bhawan spokesman said, “He (Governor) has conveyed his grief and sincere sympathy to the families of the brave soldiers who had lost their lives in this attack and prayed for early recovery of all those injured in this gruesome attack,”
According to the spokesperson, Governor observed that the forces responsible for insurgency in J&K were “desperate and frustrated and they just want to prove their presence.”
Former Chief Ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti also strongly condemned the attack.“Terrible news coming from the valley. A number of CRPF soldiers arereported to have been killed & injured in an IED blast. I condemn this attack in the strongest possible terms. My prayers for the injured and condolences to the families of the bereaved.” Omar Abdullah tweeted.
Peoples Democratic Party chief Mehbooba Mufti also condemned the attack, saying “no words were enough” to condemn the gruesome attack. “How many more lives will be snuffed out before this madness ends?” Mehbooba wrote on Twitter.
PM Modi, Rahul Gandhi condemn attack
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has strongly condemned the blast, saying the sacrifices of the country's security personnel shall not go in vain. “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. The entire nation stands shoulder to shoulder with the families of the brave martyrs. May the injured recover quickly.”
Congress president Rahul Gandhi condoled the killing of CRPF personnel in a terror attack. “I'm deeply disturbed by the cowardly attack on a CRPF convoy in J&K in which many of our brave CRPF men have been martyred and a large number wounded, some critically. My condolences to the families of our martyrs. I pray for the speedy recovery of the injured.”
Home Minister to visit J&K
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik and will visit Srinagar on Friday. “Today’s dastardly attack on CRPF in Pulwama (J&K) is extremely painful and disturbing. I bow to each and every CRPF jawan who has sacrificed his life in service to the nation. I pray for the speedy recovery of the injured,” he posted on Twitter.
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Published: 15 Feb 2019, 2:40 AM