Srinagar (India), Feb. 14: Thirty-nine Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) men were killed and several injured as militants attacked a convoy at Lethpora along the Srinagar-Jammu highway on Thursday.
As per the CRPF, an IED blast occurred at around 3.30 pm upon a CRPF convoy which was on its way to Srinagar from Jammu. Two CRPF vehicles came under attack.
“The vehicles which came under attack were part of a convoy from Jammu to Srinagar. There were also reports of firing upon the vehicles,” a CRPF officer said.
“The fatalities could rise and there were several CRPF men inside the bus which was targeted by the militants,” they said.
Meanwhile, militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad claimed responsibility for the attack, saying a local fidayeen rammed his vehicle into a CRPF convoy.
“They identified the local who carried out the fidayeen attack as Aadil Ahmad alias Waqas, commando of Gundi Bagh, Pulwama,” a local news agency, GNS quoted Jaish spokesman.
More than 2,500 CRPF personnel, many of them returning from leave to rejoin duty in the Valley, were travelling in the convoy of 78 vehicles when they were ambushed.
The number of personnel travelling back to the Valley was high as there was no movement on the highway for the last two to three days because of bad weather and other administrative reasons, they said.
Usually, about 1,000 personnel are part of a convoy.
A road opening party was deployed and the convoy had armoured counter-terror vehicles, officials said. Forensic and bomb analysis teams are on the spot.
The bus that was the focus of the attack belongs to the 54th battalion of the force and had 44 personnel on board, officials said.
In the attack on the Uri military base in September 2016, JeM militants killed 18 Army jawans and injured dozens of others.
Indian PM Modi condemns attack, Rajanth likely to visit J&K tomorrow
Stating that sacrifices of brave security personnel shall not go in vain, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he has spoken to Home Minister Rajnath Singh and other top officials regarding the situation in the wake of the attack in Pulwama.
"Attack on CRPF personnel in Pulwama is despicable. I strongly condemn this dastardly attack," Modi tweeted.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh is likely to visit Jammu and Kashmir on Friday after cancelling his programme in Bihar, officials said.
Condemning the attack, Union minister Arun Jaitley tweeted, "Attack on CRPF in #Pulwama, J&K is a cowardice & condemnable act of terrorists. Nation salutes martyred soldiers and we all stand united with families of martyrs. We pray for speedy recovery of the injured. Terrorists will be given unforgettable lesson for their heinous act."
Former Jammu and Kashmir chief ministers Omar Abdullah and Mehbooba Mufti condemned the attack. "Terrible news coming from the valley. A number of CRPF soldiers are reported to have been killed & injured in an IED blast. I condemn this attack in the strongest possible terms. My prayers for the injured & condolences to the families of the bereaved," Abdullah tweeted. - Agencies
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