As many as 42 CRPF personnel were killed and several others were injured in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama district on Thursday when a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorist rammed an explosives-laden vehicle into the bus the jawans were travelling in, officials said. After Uri, this is considered to be one of the worst terror strikes in Jammu and Kashmir in recent years. JeM, the Pakistani based terror group has claimed responsibility for the gruesome attack that took place around 03:30 pm at Lethpora village about 30 km away from Jammu and Kashmir's capital city Srinagar.
More than 2,500 Central Reserve Police Force personnel, many of them returning from leave to rejoin duty in the Valley, were travelling in the convoy of over 70 vehicles when they were ambushed on the Srinagar-Jammu highway at Latoomode in Awantipora. Police said the terrorist driving a suicide vehicle was Adil Ahmad from Kakapora in Pulwama who joined the JeM in 2018. The casualties are likely to go up.
Meanwhile, there are reports that the Intelligence Bureau (IB) on February 8 had issued an alert warning this kind of terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir's Awantipora, but lack of security cover and ignorance have failed to avoid the untoward incident.
Condemning the 'cowardice' terror attack, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that the sacrifice of the brave security personnel will not go in vain. "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," the prime minister tweeted.
Modi has also spoken to Home Minister Rajnath Singh Ji and other top officials in the wake of the major terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir's Pulwama. Apart from Modi, other political leaders from across party lines have condemned the 'cowardice' attack in the heart of Kashmir valley this afternoon.
Taking to Twitter, Congress president Rahul Gandhi said, "I am deeply disturbed by the cowardly attack on a CRPF convoy in Jammu and Kashmir in which many of our brave CRPF men have been martyred and a large number wounded, some critically. My condolences to the families of our martyrs. I pray for the speedy recovery of the injured".
Dozens of CRPF personnel were injured in the terror attack, which reduced the bus to a mangled heap of iron. Several other buses were damaged in the attack. Body parts could be seen strewn around the area.
The convoy started from Jammu around 3.30 am and was supposed to reach Srinagar before sunset, officials said. 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 but this time it was a total of 2,547 personnel. 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 76th battalion of the force and had 39 personnel on board, officials said. CRPF inspector general (Operations) in the Kashmir Valley Zulfiqar Hasan described it as a "vehicle-bound attack" and said Jammu and Kashmir Police has taken up the investigation.