At least 33 police officers killed in massive blast in Indian Kashmir

SRINAGAR. KAZINFORM At least 33 paramilitary officers were killed on Thursday in a powerful bomb blast that struck a convoy of security forces on a busy highway in the restive Indian-administered Kashmir, officials said, EFE reported.

Police said the attack, which left an unknown number of paramilitary troopers wounded, took place in south Kashmir's Pampore area, some 25 kilometers (15 miles) from Srinagar city, the summer capital of the state.

"One vehicle which was part of the convoy carrying CRPF Personnel bore the brunt of the blast resulting in multiple casualties, whose exact number is being ascertained," Kashmir police said in a statement. "So far, 33 fatal causalities have been confirmed."

Police sources said a damaged private car was found near the CRPF vehicle that had been hit by an explosion and that they could be dealing with a suspected suicide car bomb attack.

An official at Srinagar Police Control Room said they were trying to confirm if it was a suicide attack.

Sources said dozens of ambulances carried the wounded soldiers to the Indian Army's 92-Base hospital in Srinagar.

Following the explosion, traffic was halted on the highway, which had just re-opened after a heavy snowfall, and the scene of the suspected attack was cordoned off by security forces, who have opened an investigation into the incident.

The Jaish-e-Mohammad militant outfit claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement issued to local media, saying one of its suicide bombers had carried it out.

Authorities cut off internet access in south Kashmir and decreased its speed in Srinagar after reports emerged that thousands had started gathering in Kakapora, the native village of the suspected bomber, in support of him.

The former chief minister of the state, Omar Abdullah, said in a tweet that a number of officers were "reported to have been killed and injured."

"I condemn this attack in the strongest possible terms... Jaish has claimed the blast as a suicide attack, reminiscent of the dark days of militancy pre-2004-05," he said.

The idyllic Kashmir Valley in north India has been battling three decades of an armed rebellion that has left tens of thousands dead and many more injured.

Violence involving militants and security forces has surged in recent months in India's only Muslim-majority state, located in the foothills of the Himalayas.

The region is divided into India-administered and Pakistan-administered Kashmir, although both India and Pakistan claim complete sovereignty over the region.

The countries have waged two major wars and several minor conflicts over the territory that is separated by a provisional border, making it one of the most militarized regions in the world.

Violence surged in the state in the past couple of years since the Indian government launched a major offensive to hunt down militants.

More than 250 militants were killed in 2018, the highest annual toll in more than a decade.

India blames Pakistan for sponsoring terrorism in Kashmir, an allegation Islamabad has been denying with counter accusations that Indian forces were committing human rights abuses against Kashmiris.

Currently reading