44 CRPF jawans killed in worst terror attack in Kashmir, India slams Pakistan

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Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir police had shared an intelligence input, uploaded on a private twitter account a couple of days back, with all security agencies in which Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed had threatened to carry out the suicide attack on security forces, officials said on February 14.
While the police put the official death toll at 33, security officials in Srinagar and New Delhi said at least 44 people had died on February 14 in one of the deadliest terror attacks in Jammu and Kashmir when a Jaish suicide bomber rammed a vehicle carrying over 100 kg of explosives into their bus in Pulwama district that also left many critically wounded, officials said. The Jaish claimed in a statement that the vehicle was carrying 350 kg of explosives, which Indian authorities did not confirm.
The input shared by the state police had attached the twitter handle that carried a 33 second video of troops in Somalia being attacked by militants in a similar fashion as was replicated on February 14 on a bus carrying CRPF personnel at Pulwama in South Kashmir.
“Attack on CRPF personnel in Pulwama is despicable. I strongly condemn this dastardly attack,” PM Narendra Modi said in a statement as political parties denounced the attack in unison. “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.”
Congress president Rahul Gandhi wrote on Twitter: “I’m deeply disturbed by the cowardly attack on a #CRPF convoy in J&K in which many of our brave CRPF men have been martyred and a large number wounded, some critically.”
The attack may ratchet up tensions between India and Pakistan. Jammu and Kashmir governor Satya Pal Malik said the fact that Jaish owned up to carrying out the attack indicated that Pakistan may have had a hand in it. Minister of state in the Prime Minister’s Office, Jitender Singh, told television channels that the attack had led to a “war- like” situation.
“This is a bigger attack than Uri. Unlike the Uri attack, a Pakistan-based terror group has claimed responsibility There will be much more pressure on Pakistan, but my hunch is, because a Pakistan-based group has claimed responsibility, New Delhi too, will have to act. The form and shape of the retaliation will be the government’s prerogative,” said General DS Hooda, former Northern Army commander.
The ministry of external affairs, while condemning the “heinous and despicable act perpetrated by Jaish-e-Mohammed, a Pakistan-based and supported terrorist organisation proscribed by the United Nations and other countries” called for its chief Masood Azhar to be listed as a designated terrorist under the sanctions committee of the UN Security Council.
The security establishments at the Centre and in the state, which is under federal rule, were huddled in meetings to take stock of the situation following the attack that precedes general elections, likely to be held simultaneously with state elections, in the spring of 2019. National security adviser Ajit Doval was monitoring the situation and senior CRPF officials were briefing him.
The Pulwama attack was the deadliest since insurgency broke out in Jammu and Kashmir in 1989. In the previous worst terror strike, 38 people were killed in a car bomb attack in Srinagar near the legislative assembly in October 2001.
In September 2016, four terrorists attacked an Indian Army brigade headquarters in Uri, near the Line of Control (LoC) with Pakistan, killing 19 army personnel. That attack was the spark for a retaliatory surgical strike on terrorist camps across the LoC by Indian forces just days later.
Near the town of Kaluchak in 2002, three militants attacked a tourist bus from Himachal Pradesh and killed seven people after which they raided the nearby army family quarters and shot 23 people to death — 10 children, eight women and five soldiers.
CRPF’s inspector general (operations) Zulfiqar Hassan said the Jammu and Kashmir police had taken over the investigation of the terror attack “There were around 78 vehicles in the convoy and one of the vehicles came under attack. The convoy was on its way from Jammu to Srinagar,” he said.
(with the input of PTI and News Dispatches)

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