44 CRPF jawans killed, 2 dozen injured in car bombing

A view of the site where militants target CRPF vehicles on Jammu-Srinagar National Highway at Lethpora in Pulwama on Thursday. —Excelsior/Younis Khaliq
A view of the site where militants target CRPF vehicles on Jammu-Srinagar National Highway at Lethpora in Pulwama on Thursday. —Excelsior/Younis Khaliq

Intl input about attack generated 48 hours before
Vehicle was packed with over 100 kg explosives

Fayaz Bukhari

Srinagar, Feb 14: In the deadliest ever attack in Kashmir, 44 paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel were killed and around two dozen injured in a car bombing at Lethpora area on Srinagar-Jammu National Highway (NH-44) in South Kashmir’s Pulwama district today.
A Fidayeen rammed an explosive-laden car into the CRPF bus in a convoy near Lethpora in Pulwama district at around 3:15 pm leading to a huge blast in which 44 CRPF personnel were killed and around two dozen injured. The impact of blast was such that body parts of the CRPF men and pieces of the bus, a CPRF truck and car used for attack were strewn in 200 meter radius. Click here to watch video
The bus bearing registration number HR 49 F 0637 that was targeted belonged to 76th Batallion of CRPF and 44 personnel from 92, 17 and 54 battalions were travelling in it. Another CRPF truck was also blown in the blast and two more buses were damaged with the impact of the blast.
A team of experts and NSG reached the spot and they collected the samples of the blast material and other evidence that could be used for investigations. The entire area was cordoned off and ambulances were rushed to the scene which was horrific. The injured were removed to the Badami Bagh Base Hospital in Srinagar where several of them succumbed while majority of the CRPF died on the spot.
The impact of the blast was such that it was heard in Srinagar as well. The earth in several miles around the attack site was shaken with the impact of the blast. Several shops in the area were damaged.
The blast was carried out by Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) as they claimed the responsibility for it. They identified the bomber as Adil Ahmad Dar alias Waqas Commando from Pulwama. They also released the video of the Fidayeen, recorded before attack in which he said that he had joined Fidayeen squad of JeM last year. He talks about attacks carried out by the JeM on troops, Parliament and hijacking of airliner. He also warned more attacks.
The militant was driving a vehicle packed with over 100 kg of explosives on the wrong side of the road and hit the bus, in which 39-44 personnel were travelling, head-on, an official at the spot said.
“There are no survivors from the bus,” he said, adding that they were yet to ascertain exactly how many people were on the bus.
“The bodies are dismembered and mutilated making it difficult for doctors to give the exact number of casualties,” a senior security establishment official said.
“It was a large convoy and about 2,500 personnel were travelling in multiple vehicles. Some shots were also fired at the convoy,” CRPF DG R R Bhatnagar said.
The convoy had started from Jammu around 3.30 am and was supposed to reach Srinagar before sunset, officials said.
The number of personnel travelling back to the Valley was high as there was no movement on the highway for the last two to three days because of bad weather and other administrative reasons, they said.
Usually, about 1,000 personnel are part of a convoy but this time it was a total of 2,547 personnel.
A road opening party was deployed and the convoy had armoured counter-terror vehicles, officials said.
The attack comes two days after a local intelligence generated an input about possible Fidayeen attack on security forces in Jammu and Kashmir. The input was generated after JeM issued a threat on social media of carrying out a major blast in the State.
“The chatter inputs revealed that Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) outfit has hinted to carry out IED attacks along the routes of security forces across Jammu and Kashmir. A video uploaded by the outfit was also shared with all concerned. It is as such suggested that security forces need to be put on alert to thwart any such attempt by terrorists”, read the input that was shared with the security forces across Jammu and Kashmir.
In the video that was uploaded along threat message showed a truck carrying troops in Somalia blown up in a power IED blast. In the message, the JeM had warned similar type of blast in Kashmir.
A senior security officer said that this is a major security lapse as the input about the possible attack was generated only 48 hours before. He said that the highway is highly guarded and there seems to be a lapse.
Following the blast, the traffic on the Srinagar-Jammu highway came to standstill and there was huge traffic jam and it was later restored late in the evening when the highway was cleared. Soon after the blast, security forces launched searches in the entire area.
A police officer said forensic experts have taken samples even as investigations have been set into motion. “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 casualties,” the officer said.
IGP Kashmir SP Pani 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. We are ascertaining chain of circumstances in this incident.”
Meanwhile, Experts of the anti-terror commando force National Security Guard (NSG) and investigators of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) are being sent to Jammu and Kashmir to join the probe into the terror attack in Pulwama in which 44 CRPF personnel were killed, officials said today.
The decision was taken in view of the high number of casualties in the worst terror strike in the State since the Uri attack in 2016.
An NIA team with forensic experts is being sent to Srinagar to assist Jammu and Kashmir Police in forensic evaluation of the scene of crime, a Home Ministry official said.
Explosive specialists of the Black Cat commando force NSG will also join in the investigation into the attack, another official said.

List of dead
Name unit
Jaimal Singh 76 BN
Naseer Ahamad 76 BN
Sukhvinder Singh 76 BN
Rohitash Lamba 76 BN
Tilak Raj 76 BN
Bhagirath Singh 45 BN
Birendra Singh 45 BN
Avdesh Kumar Yadav 45 BN
Nitin Singh Rathor 3 BN
Ratan Kumar Thakur 45 BN
Surendra Yadav 45 BN
Sanjay Kumar Singh 176 BN
Ramvakil 176 BN
Dharamchandra 176 BN
Belkar Thaka 176 BN
Shyam Babu 115 BN
Ajit Kumar Azad 115 BN
Pradeep Singh 115 BN
Sanjay Rajpoot 115 BN
Kaushal Kumar Rawat 115 BN
Jeet Ram 92 BN
Amit Kumar 92 BN
Bijay Kumar Morya 92 BN
Kulwinder Singh 92 BN
Vijay Soreng 82 BN
Vashanta Kumar vv 82 BN
Guruh 82 BN
Subham Anirang g 82 BN
Amar Kumar 75 BN
Ajay Kumar 75 BN
Maninder Singh 75 BN
Ramesh Yadav 61 BN
Parshana Kumar Shau 61 BN
Hem Raj Meena 61 BN
Babla Shantra 35 BN
Ashwani Kumar Kochi 35 BN
Pardeep Kumar 21 BN
Sudhir Kumar Banshal 21 BN
Ravinder Singh 98 BN
M Bashumatary 98 BN
Mahesh Kumar 118 BN
N L Gurjar 118 BN