Mir Zeeshan

Carnage On Highway

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Nearly “44” CRPF men killed as JeM suicide bomber rams explosives-laden vehicle into forces’ bus

Photo/Javed Khan

Pulwama/Srinagar, Feb 14: In one of the deadliest militant attack, nearly forty-four paramilitary CRPF personnel were killed in south Kashmir's Pulwama district on Thursday when a Jaish-e-Mohammed militant rammed an explosives-laden vehicle into the bus they were travelling in, reports said.

More than 2,500 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) 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 at Ladhu Mode Lethpora in Awantipora.

Though police have confirmed only 33 fatal causalities, authoritative sources said that toll has already reached 44 and with massive injuries, may go up.

However, some sources said that 39 CRPF men got killed in the attack.

However, a local news gathering agency, GNS reported that 45 CRPF men were killed while 38 others were injured.

GNS reported: "While a total of 44 CRPF men belonging to different battalions were travelling in one vehicle, 39 others were travelling in another one," the CRPF official said. He said that the CRPF men belonged to 92, 17, 54, 82, 61, 21, 98, 118, 76, 45, 3 and 176 battalions. He said while none from the bus carrying 44 CRPF men survived, one of the injured among those travelling in another bus succumbed. The other injured are being treated at the army hospital at Badamibagh.

Police said the militant driving the suicide vehicle was Adil Ahmad from Kakapora in Pulwama who had joined the JeM in 2018.

Adil Ahmad alias ‘Waqas Commando’, a resident of Gandi-Bagh Kakapora had joined JeM on March 19, 2018, his relatives said.

They said his family had uploaded a video appeal for him to return which went unheeded.

Ahmad is survived by two brothers besides his parents. He had studied upto 12th standard and before joining militant ranks, worked as a mason. He would also lead prayers at a local Masjid, said a relative.

Immediately after today’s attack as JeM claimed responsibility, a pre-recorded video of slain Adil Ahmad went viral on social media sites in which he is heard saying that he had joined militant ranks a year and was waiting for an opportunity to attack on Indian forces.

Scores of other personnel were also injured in the attack, which reduced the bus to a mangled heap of iron. Several other buses were also 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 was quoted as saying by 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 (ROP) was deployed and the convoy had armoured vehicles escorting it, 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.

(With PTI inputs)

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