At least 44 CRPF personnel were martyred and several others were injured in one of the deadliest terror attacks in Jammu and Kashmir when a suicide bomber on Thursday rammed his SUV packed with explosives into a CRPF bus on the Srinagar-Jammu highway in Pulwama district. The martyr of the CRPF personnel has created a ripple of anger and shock across the world.
Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror group has claimed responsibility for the attack and the police identified the suicide bomber as Adil Ahmed, who officials said joined the Jaish in 2018. He was driving a vehicle packed with over 100 kg of explosives on the wrong side of the road and hit the bus, in which estimated 39-44 personnel were travelling, head-on.
More than 2,500 Central Reserve Police Force personnel, many of them returning from leave to rejoin duty in the Valley, were travelling in the convoy of 78 vehicles when they were ambushed on the Srinagar-Jammu highway at Latoomode in Awantipora in south Kashmir around 3.15 pm.
JeM claimed the terrorist drove the SUV carrying 350 kg of explosives. However, the army and other security agencies disputed the claim and said it was mere propaganda. The powerful explosion, which reduced the bus to a mangled heap of iron, was heard many kilometres away, including in some parts of Srinagar adjoining Pulwama district.
Here is look at how world media covered the Awantipora attack on CRPF:
Guardian: The Guardian described the attack as one of the deadliest outsides of a war zone in the country’s history. It said that Thursday’s attack is the first using a car bomb in 19 years. It follows the deadliest year for terrorism in a decade. The last car bomb attack in Kashmir was carried out in 2000 by a Birmingham-born man who was using the name, Mohammad Bilal. Jaish-e-Mohammed is designated by the UN and Britain as a terrorist group and is alleged to have links to elements within the Pakistani government said The Guardian. China has repeatedly blocked attempts by the Indian government to have the UN security council declare the group’s leader, Masood Azhar, a terrorist, added The Guardian.
The group carried out the most recent major attack in Kashmir in September 2016, when its fighters stormed an army camp in Uri, a garrison town near the ceasefire line with Pakistan, and killed more than a dozen soldiers. “The Pakistanis are wanting to up the ante again ahead of the election,” Guardian quoted Khalid Shah, an associate fellow at the Delhi-based Observer Research Foundation.
The fact the alleged perpetrator was Kashmiri reflects a growing radicalisation of local youths in terrorism that was once dominated by Pakistani or Afghan fighters crossing the border. Guardian said that PM Narendra Modi is likely to face pressure from "his Hindu nationalist supporters to respond strongly to this latest attack".
Washington Post: The Washington Post called the attack as the worst attack on security personnel "since the start of the insurgency in the region three decades ago". The media said the killings will inflame tensions between nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan. It also said that PM Modi has taken a tough line on matters of national security.
Since the insurgency in Kashmir began three decades ago, the level of violence has varied. Terrorists are thought to number only a few hundred, far fewer than at the insurgency’s peak in the 1990s and early 2000s. India’s renewed effort to crush the insurgency has provoked a backlash among a large swath of Kashmiris, it added. Thursday’s attack was highly unusual, it concluded.
CNN: Reporting the attack, CNN said that PM Modi has taken a stronger stance towards terrorism in the state since he came to power almost five years ago. Taking to the history of both the nations, CNN said that after India gained independence in 1947, Kashmir has been bitterly contested by both India and Pakistan, resulting in three wars between the two countries and numerous other skirmishes. Violence in the region has killed more than 47,000 people since 1989, it said.
The Sydney Morning Herald: The media outlet reported that Indian forces have sporadically battled Islamist terrorists in Kashmir since an armed revolt in 1989 in which tens of thousands were killed. It also said car bombings are rare. The last major attack in Kashmir was in 2016 when terrorists raided an army camp in Uri, killing more than a dozen soldiers. It added that the tension with Pakistan rose after that incident when New Delhi said the attackers had come from Pakistan to stage the assault. Pakistan denied any involvement.
It added that Thursday's attack could put PM Modi under political pressure to act against the terrorists and Pakistan. The SMH called the Jaish-e-Mohammad group as one of the most powerful terrorist groups operating in Kashmir.
South China Morning Post: The media outlet described the incident as the worst attack on security personnel since the start of the insurgency in the region three decades ago. It also said, "immediate suspicion fell against Pakistan". Kashmir experienced many car bombings from 2000 through 2005 which inflicted high casualties on Indian troops. The attacks forced Indian authorities to procure bombproof armoured vehicles for soldiers operating in Kashmir, it added.
The South China Morning Post said the Indian soldiers are "ubiquitous in Kashmir and local residents make little secret of their fury toward their presence in the Himalayan region".