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44 Indian troops killed in Kashmir car bombing

Militant outfit Jaish-e-Muhammad claimed responsibility for attack

44 Indian troops killed in Kashmir car bombing File Photo

By Zahid Rafiq

SRINAGAR, Jammu and Kashmir

At least 44 Indian paramilitary personnel were killed in a car bombing in Jammu and Kashmir, Indian media reported on Thursday. 

According to New-Delhi based newspaper Hindustan Times, 20 soldiers were also injured in the attack. 

The attack took place around 3.15 p.m. local time when an explosive-laden vehicle rammed into a paramilitary bus in Awantipora, a town along the highway connecting state capital Srinagar to Anantnag, a southern district, police said. 

Official sources said the vehicle was carrying some 350 kilograms (around 772 pounds) of explosives.

The militant outfit Jaish-e-Muhammad claimed responsibility for the attack. 

Member of the group who carried out the attack has been identified as Adil Ahmad of Pulwama district in Kashmir, who had joined militancy a year ago.

In a Twitter post, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi condemned the attack, calling it as “despicable” and “dastardly”.

“Attack on CRPF personnel in Pulwama is despicable. I strongly condemn this dastardly attack,” Modi said. 

“The sacrifices of our brave security personnel shall not go in vain," he wrote. "The entire nation stands shoulder to shoulder with the families of the brave martyrs.”

Earlier, Omar Abdullah, former chief minister, also condemned the attack in a tweet.

"Terrible news coming from the valley. A number of CRPF soldiers are reported to have been killed & injured in an IED blast. I condemn this attack in the strongest possible terms. My prayers for the injured & condolences to the families of the bereaved. #Kashmir," he said.

This is the deadliest attack for Indian forces in three decades of armed rebellion in Kashmir. Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh will visit Kashmir on Friday to inspect the security situation in the area.

Jammu and Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.

Since they were partitioned in 1947, the two countries have fought three wars -- in 1948, 1965 and 1971 -- two of them over Kashmir.

Also, in Siachen glacier in northern Kashmir, Indian and Pakistani troops have fought intermittently since 1984. A cease-fire came into effect in 2003.

Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or for unification with neighboring Pakistan.

According to several human rights organizations, thousands of people have reportedly been killed in the conflict in the region since 1989.

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