New Delhi: Thirty nine CRPF personnel were killed and several others sustained severe injuries as terrorists struck the bus they were travelling in with improvised explosive device (IEDs) on Thursday, Jammu & Kashmir Police sources said.
The attack took place in Kashmir’s Pulwama district around 3.15 pm, at Awantipora’s Goripura.
Banned terrorist organisation Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) has reportedly claimed responsibility for the attack. A video of the purported attacker was released by the outfit.
— Snehesh Alex Philip (@sneheshphilip) February 14, 2019
According to a PTI report, the impact of the blast reduced the bus to a mangled heap.
The IEDs were reportedly planted in a vehicle that was parked on the Jammu & Kashmir national highway. The vehicle is believed to have hit the bus as it was passing through the highway, with suspicions that this might be a suicide attack. However, it remains unclear how the blast was triggered. The IED attack was allegedly followed by firing.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemned the “despicable” attack, and said the country stood “shoulder to shoulder with the families of the martyrs”.
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.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) February 14, 2019
GNS, a local news service in Kashmir, put out a statement believed to be from the JeM, in which the terror group owns up to the act. The statement identified the driver of the vehicle, who carried out the “terrorist attack”, as “Aadil Ahmad alias Waqas commando of Gundibagh, Pulwama”.
According to the CRPF, over 2,500 personnel were travelling on the highway in 78 vehicles when the attack took place. The bus that sustained maximum impact belonged to the 76 battalion of the CRPF and is believed to have been travelling with 39 personnel.
Following the attack, security forces cordoned off the area and launched searches. Vehicular movement in the area has been suspended.
Former Jammu & Kashmir chief minister Omar Abdullah was among those who issued immediate condemnations of the attack.
Breaking: After terror attack at Pulwama, I&B Ministry asks news channels to strictly comply with advisories issued earlier and not show content which could "encourage or incite violence" or disturb law and order or promote "anti-national attitudes". pic.twitter.com/KcWN6JP3K0
— Maneesh Chhibber (@maneeshchhibber) February 14, 2019
Terror incidents on the rise in J&K
The attack comes a day after news agency ANI quoted Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rjiju as saying that apart from the attack on an Army camp in Uri, “the bomb blast and attack in some of the border areas like Pathankot”, there had been no major terror attack in India in the last four and a half years.
“[It] Doesn’t mean there were no attempts, but pre-emptive action and arrests by intelligence agencies helped,” he added.
Statistics, however, narrate a different story. Since 2014, more than 339 security personnel have lost their lives in over 1,708 terror incidents in Jammu & Kashmir alone.
The number of terror incidents reported from Jammu & Kashmir has also been on the rise, with 2018 recording a 44 per cent jump.
In 2017, 342 terror incidents were reported from Jammu & Kashmir, in which 40 civilians and 80 security personnel lost their lives. In 2018, the number of terror incidents rose to 614, with 38 civilian deaths and 91 security personnel getting killed.
This is a developing story and will be updated.
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