At least 44 federal police personnel were killed and another 20 seriously injured in India’s southern Kashmir on Thursday in a car bomb attack on a police convoy heading to Srinagar from Jammu.
The pro-Pakistani militant group, Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), claimed the attack which is the deadliest in recent memory on armed forces.
In 2016, 19 soldiers were killed in a terror strike by JeM on the Uri army camp in Jammu and Kashmir.
Police on Thursday identified the Jaish suicide bomber, who drove the car loaded with 250 kilos of explosives, as Adil Ahmad, a resident of Gundi bagh in Pulwama. He joined the terror group last year.
The attack happened around 3.15pm near Lethpora Awantipora in Pulwama on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway as some 70 vehicles of the 54 Battalion of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) carrying 2,500 personnel were moving in a convoy.
While the suicide bomber wanted to target two vehicles in the convoy, the bombs ripped through only one vehicle killing 44 CRPF personnel. The bus was carrying some 50 officers at the time of the blast which reduced it to a heap of twisted metal with body parts of the victims strewn all over the scene of the terror attack
The death toll is likely to rise as the condition of some of the injured officers is reported to be critical.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemned the terror attack on the CRPF convoy adding that the sacrifices of the security personnel shall not go in vain.
The entire nation stands by the families of the martyrs, he said.
Modi held talks with Home Minister Rajnath Singh and National Security Advisor Ajit Doval. The Cabinet Committee on Security will hold a meeting early on Friday.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh will visit Srinagar on Friday along with the Director General Rajeev Rai Bhatnagar. A 12-member team of the National Investigative Agency will also visit the blast site in Pulwama.
The ministry of external affairs called on the UN to designate Pakistan-based JeM chief Masood Azhar to be designated a terrorist, a demand time and again vetoed by China to serve its own geopolitical interests
Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister and National Conference leader Omar Abdullah said the attack was reminiscent of pre-2004 days in the Kashmir Valley.