SRINAGAR: 44 CRPF personnel were killed in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Thursday when a Jaish-e-Mohammed militant rammed an explosives-laden vehicle into the bus they were travelling in, one of the worst strikes in the state in recent years, reports said.
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 78 vehicles when they were ambushed on the Srinagar-Jammu highway in Awantipora.
“A total of 44 CRPF men belonging to different battalions were travelling in the vehicle when the blast occurred,” news agency GNS quoted a CRPF official as having said. He said that 44 personnel were killed in the attack.
Police said the militant driving the suicide vehicle was Adil Ahmad from Kakapora in Pulwama who joined the JeM in 2018.
The group has claimed responsibility for the attack that took place about 30 km from Srinagar, they said.
Over 20 people were injured in the 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.
“It was a large convoy and about 2,500 personnel were travelling in multiple vehicles. Some shots were also fired at the convoy,” CRPF DG R R Bhatnagar told PTI.
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 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.__GK News