Srinagar: Four more critically wounded armed forces’ personnel succumbed to their injuries at army’s 92 base hospital Badamibagh Srinagar, taking the death toll to 49 in a suicide bomb attack in Lethpora area along the Srinagar-Jammu highway in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district, Thursday afternoon, news agency Global News Service (GNS) reported.
An official of the CRPF said that a “suicide car bomber” rammed an explosive-laden vehicle into the bus near Lethpora at around 03:15 pm, resulting into an intensive blast.
An official of the CRPF confirmed to news agency GNS that four more critically wounded personnel succumbed to injuries in the army hospital today morning. He said that the death toll of CRPF men has mounted to 49.
“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, five of the injured among those travelling in another bus succumbed to injuries, one of them yesterday.
Others who are injured are still being treated in hospital. Citing sources, GNS reported that the intensity of the blast was such that its sound was heard around 10 kilometers away. The bodies of 46 CRPF men are being sent to their native villages while those of three personnel were still missing.
A wreath-laying ceremony is being held at Humhama here and Home Minister of India Rajnath Singh is scheduled to attend it.
Militant outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) has claimed responsibility of the attack.
A JeM spokesperson Muhammad Hassan in a statement issued to news agency GNS said “dozens of forces’ vehicles were destroyed in the attack”. The spokesperson identified the driver (of JeM) who carried out the ‘fidayeen’ attack as Aadil Ahmad alias Waqas Commando of Gundi Bagh, Pulwama.
GNS reported, citing official sources, that the traffic will remain suspended on the Lethpora highway for some time as the teams from National Investigation Agency (NIA) and National Security Guard (NSG) are arriving today to assist the Jammu and Kashmir police in forensic evaluation of the scene of the attack.
The forces along with the additional reinforcements are still conducting searches around the attack site to find the bodies of three personnel which are yet to be recovered, GNS reported.
A police officer was quoted by GNS as having said that forensic experts of have taken samples even as investigations have been set into motion. The officer also confirmed that yesterday’s attack was the deadliest in the 30 years of insurgency.
“Even though there were major attacks in the past also like Badamibagh and assembly but this is the first attack in which there have been such a number of causalities,” the officer had said, as per the report.
Regarding the vehicle, the officer said that it seems to be a Scorpio or jeep. “Investigations are underway in this regard,” the officer had said, according to the report.
IGP Kashmir SP Pani had said that it was a gruesome attack. “The investigations have been taken up. We have started gathering the sequences how this happened and the people behind it will be brought before the law,” the IGP said, adding, “We are ascertaining chain of circumstances in this incident.”
Meanwhile, Indian Air Force C-17 aircraft will airlift the mortal remains of CRPF personnel killed in the attack.
“Indian Air Force C-17 to go to J&K’s Srinagar from Hindon to get the mortal remains of CRPF personnel killed in Pulwama,” reported news agency ANI.
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh: Today is the day of mourning. Our country has lost close to 40 armed forces jawans and our foremost duty is to convey to their families that we are with them. We shall never compromise with the terrorist forces. #PulwamaAttack pic.twitter.com/vPnKXNTIFl
— ANI (@ANI) February 15, 2019
Former Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh said that they would ‘not compromise with terrorists’.
“Today is a day of mourning. Our country has lost close to 40 jawans and our foremost duty is to convey to the families of those who have lost their lives and those seriously injured that we are with them in condemning this act of terrorism,”Singh said. “We will not compromise with terrorists and whatever the country requires, we will act as one nation. Our role today is to convey to soldiers and families our sympathies. The Congress party stands with them and we will do all that is necessary to keep this country united.”
Congress chief Rahul Gandhi said that the Opposition stood with ‘the jawans and our government’.
“Aim of terrorism is to divide this country. We won’t be divided even for a second. Opposition stands with our jawans and with our government,” Congress President Rahul Gandhi said. “This is a terrible tragedy. This type of violence done against our soldiers is absolutely disgusting. We are all standing together with our jawans. This is a time of mourning, sadness, and respect.”
Congress President Rahul Gandhi: This is a time of mourning, sadness, & respect. We are fully supporting the govt of India and our security forces. We are not going to get into any other conversation apart from this. #PulwamaAttack pic.twitter.com/Dkfn5yh3KH
— ANI (@ANI) February 15, 2019
(With inputs from GNS, ANI)