Blast kills 40 Indian soldiers in Indian-administered Kashmir

Indian soldiers examine debris after an explosion in Lethpora in south Kashmir's Pulwama district Feb. 14 2019

Indian soldiers examine debris after an explosion in Lethpora in south Kashmir's Pulwama district Feb. 14 2019

India said a Pakistan based militant group, Jaish-e Mohammed carried out Thursday's deadly attack on a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) convoy in disputed Kashmir, and demanded that its neighbour act against militant groups operating from its soil.

The Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) claimed responsibility for the terror attack and released a video clip of the suicide bomber who was identified as Adil Ahmed Dar.

"The US condemns in the strongest terms the terrorist attack today on an Indian CRPF convoy in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir", State Department Deputy Spokesperson Robert Palladino said. "The sacrifices of our courageous security personnel shall not go in vain", Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a tweet.

"Authorities say the death toll may rise", KMS earlier reported.

Talking exclusively to AIR News, Director General of CRPF, R R Bhatnagar said, the convoy of the force having almost 2500 personnel was moving from Jammu to Srinagar and one of the buses was extensively damaged due to the blast in Pulwama District. The explosion was so massive that its sound was heard 10 kms away.

So devastating was the attack - one report spoke of 200 kg of explosives, including probably RDX, packed into the SUV - that the CRPF bus was left in a mangled heap, many of its occupants losing their limbs.

India blamed militants in Pakistan for that attack, the biggest in 14 years, and responded by carrying out strikes across the heavily-militarized Line of Control, the de-facto border dividing the nuclear-armed nations.

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Media captionWhy has 2018 seen a spike in violence in Indian-administered Kashmir?

Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since the end of British colonial rule in 1947, but both claim the Himalayan territory in full.

Sanjay Sharma, a spokesman for India's paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force, said numerous injured were in critical condition.

"I joined the Jaish fidayeen squad past year and it is time to fulfil my promise", he said in the video. Mainstream Kashmiri politicians condemned the attack hours before the PM even got around to saying anything.

The target of that attack was the local Parliament building in Srinagar. The group, which has been designated a terrorist organization by the US State Department since 2001, seeks to unite the Indian controlled area of Kashmir with Pakistan.

The deadliest attack on security forces in three decades of militancy in Kashmir has an ominous dimension: the rise of the local fidayeen, or suicide attacker, if the claim by the Jaish-e-Mohammad is true.

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