At least 37 CRPF personnel were killed on Thursday when a convoy in which they were travelling was attacked by a Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) suicide bomber, who rammed his explosives-laden vehicle into one of the convoy’s buses near Awantipora on the Srinagar-Jammu highway.
The bombing in Awantipora’s Lethpora area in Pulwama district also left at least eight troops critically injured and was the deadliest attack in terms of casualties in the last three decades of militancy in the State. In a post on Twitter, Home Minister Rajnath Singh blamed the “Pakistan-based, Pakistan-backed” JeM for the “dastardly” attack.
However, hospital sources said the toll was likely to rise “because the condition of eight injured jawans was critical.” The injured were shifted to the Army’s 92 Base Hospital in Srinagar, an official said.
Actually What Had Happened ?
A security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that at about 3:15 p.m. a sport utility vehicle (SUV) laden with 300 to 350 kilograms of explosives rammed into a CRPF convoy of about 70 vehicles that was on the way to Srinagar from Jammu, as the highway had opened after a week-long closure due to snowfall.
The explosion was so powerful that it was felt in Srinagar, about 30 km away away. Two vehicles, including the one carrying the bomber, were blown into smithereens. Eyewitnesses said only the charred skeletal frames of the vehicles hit by the blast were seen on the roadside, while several buses in the convoy sustained severe damage. The attack raises questions over security on the national highway, which is patrolled by the local police, CRPF and Army on a daily basis.
PM: sacrifices of our security personnel will not go in vain
Prime Minister Narendra Modi termed the attack despicable and asserted that the sacrifices of security personnel would not go in vain.
He also spoke with Home Minister Rajnath Singh and other top officials in the wake of the attack.
“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,” he tweeted.
He said the entire nation stood shoulder to shoulder with the families of those killed. He also wished speedy recovery of those injured.
“Spoke to Home Minister Rajnath Singh Ji and other top officials regarding the situation in the wake of the attack in Pulwama,” he said.
BJP president Amit Shah termed the terror attack an “act of cowardice” and asserted that security forces would defeat those involved in terrorist activities.
“Pained beyond words by the terror attack on our soldiers in Pulwama (J&K). It is an act of cowardice. My deepest condolences are with the families of our soldiers who have lost their lives. Our forces will remain firm against such acts of terror and defeat them,” he said in a tweet.
Foreign leaders, dignitaries express condolences
Leaders and dignitaries from other countries have also responded to the attack.
Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranik Wickremesinghe expressed his condolences to PM Modi and to “the families of police officers who lost their lives”.
“I strongly condemn the brutal terrorist attack in Kashmir’s Pulwama district — the worst ever terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir since 1989,” he tweeted.
The Russian embassy released a statement condemning the attack.
JeM Releases Suicide Bomber’s Chilling Video
Minutes after a ghastly suicide attack on a CRPF convoy in Awantipora town of Pulwama, Jaish-e-Mohammad, the outfit which claimed responsibility for the attack, released a video of the person believed to have carried out the fidayeen strike.
Adil alias Waqas of Kakapora in south Kashmir can be seen in the video, sitting in the backdrop of the Jaish flag, brandishing several sophisticated automatic rifles, starting the video by saying, “By the time this video reaches you, I will be in heaven, I have spent one year as a militant with JeM and this is my last message for the people of Kashmir.”
Waqas goes on to boast about the attacks against India carried out by Jaish in the past — ICA18 hijacking, 2001 Parliament attack, Nagrota attack, Uri attack, and Pathankot IAF base attack.
He also sends “a message for North Kashmir”, saying that people in south Kashmir have been fighting against India and that it was now time for people from north and central Kashmir as well as Jammu to join them.
“By killing few of our militant commanders, you can’t weaken us,” the suicide bomber says in the video. He also mentions the recent sniper and IED attacks against security forces in Kashmir.
Sources in local police say Adil Hussain Dar, from Gundibagh, Pulwama, went missing on March 19, 2016 along with two other friends — Tauseef and Waseem. Tauseef’s elder brother Manzoor Ahmad Dar was a militant who was killed in 2016. Adil was a dropout from school and was working as a mason. He also led prayers in local mosque. He has two brothers.
Thursday’s attack is one of the biggest militant attacks in Kashmir in the last two decades. The last time a suicide attack of such magnitude was carried out was in 2001 when JeM carried out a suicide bomb attack outside the Srinagar secretariat, killing 38 people and injuring 40. This attack is also bigger than the 2016 Uri attack in which 19 army men were killed.
This is the second fidayeen attack carried out by JeM in the last 13 months. Last year in August, three JeM fidayeen militants had attacked the police headquarters in Pulwama, in which five security personnel were killed. The fidayeen in this attack was 17-year-old Fardeen Ahmed, son of a serving police official. The teen had also recorded a similar video before the attack, saying, “By the time this video is released, I would be in paradise.”