SRINAGAR: At least 44 Indian paramilitary soldiers were killed and many more critically injured on Thursday in Indian-Occupied Kashmir , when a suicide car bomber rammed a bus carrying troopers belonging to Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in the deadliest attack on government forces there since 2002, police said.
The death toll is expected to rise further.
The suicide bombing outside Srinagar, claimed by Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) group, saw explosives packed inside a van rip through buses in a convoy of 78 vehicles, carrying some 2,500 members of the paramilitary force.
Two buses, with 35 people each, bore the brunt of the massive blast, heard miles away, around 20 kilometres from the city of Srinagar on the main highway to Jammu. The death toll stood at 44, a senior police official said.
The car bombing was carried out at 3:15 pm local time on a national highway near Lethpora village in Pulwama district. Dozens of others are reported to be wounded in the attack, who “have been removed to army hospital” CRPF Inspector General Zulfiqar Hassan told the media.
The convoy was bringing the troopers back from leave to rejoin active service. It was unclear whether the van containing the explosives was driven into the convoy or whether it was detonated when the buses were adjacent.