SRINAGAR, Feb 14, (RTRS): A suicide bomber rammed a car into a bus carrying Indian policemen in Kashmir on Thursday, killing 44 and wounding 20 of them in the deadliest attack in decades on security forces in the disputed region, an incident likely to raise tensions with neighbouring Pakistan.
The Pakistan-based Islamist militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) claimed responsibility for the attack on a convoy of the Central Reserve Police Force on Jammu and Kashmir’s main highway, local GNS news agency said. Kashmir is a Muslim-majority region at the heart of decades of hostility between India and Pakistan.
The neighbours both rule parts of the region while claiming the entire territory as theirs. The explosion was heard from several miles away, according to witnesses.
Mohammad Yunis, a journalist who reached the site minutes later, told Reuters he saw blood and body parts scattered along a 100-metre stretch of the highway. Television images showed a mangled car amid rubble and snow around the site. Reuters photos showed tens of policemen surveying damaged vehicles and one policeman was seen carrying a plastic cover with guns inside. “I strongly condemn this dastardly attack. The sacrifices of our brave security personnel shall not go in vain,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a tweet.
Indian forces have sporadically battled Islamist militants in mountainous Kashmir since an armed revolt in 1989 in which tens of thousands were killed, but car bombings are rare.