Death toll rises in Kashmir terror attack on CRPF troopers

Hugh Fox
February 15, 2019

12 CRPF personnel were killed in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama district on Thursday when a blast ripped through the bus they were travelling in, officials said.

The vehicle was blown up on the Srinagar-Jammu highway in Awantipora area of the district, a police official said.

Indian police said that a auto filled with explosives rammed a bus carrying the officers to Srinagar, the capital of Indian-administered Kashmir.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called it a "dastardly attack", adding that the "sacrifices of the fearless soldiers will not go in vain".

The last major attack was in 2016 when militants raided an Indian army camp in Uri that killed 20 soldiers. The militant group is held responsible by Indian authorities for various attacks against the country.

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The outfit attempted a major comeback in October previous year when it introduced high-calibre M4 carbine for sensational attacks in Srinagar and Pulwama, killing three security personnel. "We are going to go for post blast investigation", he said earlier.

The ministry of external affairs last night in a strong statement hit out at Islamabad for its support to terrorism and sent a message to Beijing for its role in shielding Pakistan-based terrorist.

The outfit floated its Afzal Guru squad a month before the Parliament attack convict's first death anniversary.

Kashmir has experienced renewed rebel attacks and repeated public protests against Indian rule in the past few years as a new generation of Kashmiri rebels, especially in the southern parts of the region, has revived the militancy and challenged New Delhi's rule with guns and social media.

Local media reports said the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed Islamist group claimed responsibility. He offered condolences to the families of the deceased.

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"The United States stands alongside India in confronting terror and defeating it", Ambassador Ken Juster said in a tweet. "May the injured recover quickly", Modi wrote.

The last major auto bombing, which killed 40 people - including three suicide attackers - was also carried out by Jaish-e-Mohammed, in 2001. "The sacrifices of our courageous security personnel shall not go in vain", he said.

Kashmiri students undergoing a training programme in Raipur area of Indian state, Chhattisgarh, were attacked by Hindu extremists, resulting in injuries to at least four of them.

India has about 500,000 soldiers deployed to its half of Kashmir, where separatists have for decades been fighting for independence or a merger with Pakistan.

Arun Jaitley, a senior minister in Modi's cabinet, called the attack an act of cowardice and said India would retaliate.

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