SRINAGAR: At least 26 Indian soldiers were killed and dozens injured in Indian Occupied Kashmir on Thursday in what was being termed the deadliest attack on Indian forces in more than two years.
The soldiers were killed when an improvised explosive device (IED) went off as a convoy of military vehicles drove on a highway some 20 kilometres from the main city of Srinagar.
“An IED went off as a CRPF (Central Reserve Police Force) convoy passed by,” senior police officer Munir Ahmed Khan told news agency AFP.
CRPF spokesman Sanjay Kumar said that the explosives were inside a car, while local media reports said the explosive-laden vehicle was driven into the convoy.
“It was a powerful explosion. The explosive was car-borne,” Kumar told AFP.
The explosion was heard from several kilometres away. Mohammad Yunis, a journalist who reached the site minutes after the explosion, told Reuters he saw blood and body parts scattered along a 100-metre stretch on the highway.
Kashmir’s Police Chief S.P. Pani said the CRPF had suffered major damage. “It is a terror incident and we are looking into the possibility of what led to the blast. We are going to go for post blast investigation,” he said.
The Kashmir Media Service put the death toll at 26.
“26 CRPF men were killed and several others seriously wounded were shifted to Indian army’s 92 base hospital at Badami Bagh in Srinagar. Authorities say the death toll may rise,” KMS reported.
Thursday’s attack was the deadliest on Indian forces in IoK since September 2016 when 19 Indian soldiers were killed in a pre-dawn attack on the Uri army camp.
Indian Occupied Kashmir has been plagued by violence for years, with clashes between Indian forces and freedom fighters killing more than 100 civilians over the past year.