At least 40 Indian security force personnel were killed yesterday and many more injured in the most serious terrorist attack during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s tenure.
They died when an improvised explosive device went off as a convoy of military vehicles drove on a highway outside Srinagar, the main city of Jammu and Kashmir, Asian News International (ANI) reported.
Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) Deputy Inspector-General M. Dhinakaran confirmed at least one bus carrying 39 passengers was attacked as the convoy – which consisted of 77 vehicles and about 2,500 personnel – travelled through Pulwama district, 35 kilometers outside Srinagar.
Investigations are continuing into the exact number of dead and injured, he said.
CRPF spokesman Sanjay Kumar said that the explosives were inside a car, while local media reports said the explosive-laden vehicle was driven into the convoy.
“It was a powerful explosion. The explosive was car-borne,” officer Kumar told Agence France-Presse.
Unconfirmed photos showed the charred remains of at least one vehicle littered across the highway, alongside blue military buses as black smoke billowed upwards.
Local media reports said the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed Islamist group had claimed responsibility.
A spokesman for the group said the “suicide attack” was carried out by a militant called Aadil Ahmad, alias Waqas Commando, in a statement sent to local newspapers.
The last major car bombing, which killed 40 people – including three suicide attackers – was also carried out by Jaish-e-Mohammed, in 2001.
The target of that attack was the local Parliament building in Srinagar.
Another car bomb attack also happened in Srinagar in March 2005, in which one civilian died and several soldiers were wounded.
Modi condemned the latest attack, calling it dastardly. “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,” Modi said in a tweet.
Senior government minister Arun Jaitley said in a tweet those responsible “will be given an unforgettable lesson for their heinous act.”