Car Bomb Kills 33 Indian Soldiers, Wounds 20 in Kashmir

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At least 30 paramilitary troopers belonging to Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) were killed and over 40 others wounded Thursday in a suicide attack targeting their convoy in restive Indian-controlled Kashmir, officials said.

Kashmir's Police Chief S.P. Pani said the CRPF had suffered major damage. The SUV containing heavy explosives was rammed into one of the CRPF buses in the convoy which led to a thundering explosion.

It was an unusually long convoy as many personnel were being transported at one go because the Srinagar-Jammu highway had been shut for the last two days due to bad weather. "The explosive was car-borne", Kumar told AFP. A number of CRPF soldiers are reported to have been killed & injured in an IED blast.

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi described the attack as "despicable" and "dastardly".

Vice President Venkaiah Naidu has condemned the cowardly attack. "My sympathies are with the families of those courageous personnel who lost their lives in this attack". "The entire nation stands shoulder to shoulder with the families of the courageous martyrs", Modi said.

This is the deadliest attack on security forces in Kashmir.

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India has an estimated 500,000 soldiers in Kashmir.

Most Kashmiris support the freedom fighters demand that the territory be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country, while also participating in civilian street protests against Indian control.

Local media reports said the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed Islamist group claimed responsibility.

The last major auto bombing, which killed 40 people - including three suicide attackers - was also carried out by Jaish-e-Mohammed, in 2001. Pakistan denied any involvement.

The US Ambassador to India Ken Juster tweeted, "The US Mission in India strongly condemns today's terrorist attack in Jammu & Kashmir".

"The Government should give a befitting reply to Pakistan to showcase our strength". The attacks forced Indian authorities to procure bombproof armored vehicles for soldiers operating in Kashmir.

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