Blast destroys army vehicle in Kashmir, 10 soldiers killed (Second Lead)

July 19th, 2008 - 9:53 pm ICT by IANS  

Srinagar, July 19 (IANS) At least 10 soldiers were killed and many wounded when an Indian Army vehicle was ripped apart in a powerful explosion triggered by suspected guerrillas in the outskirts of Jammu and Kashmir’s summer capital Saturday. According to the police, a pre-planted improvised explosive device (IED) went off targeting an army convoy near Narbal, 15 km from here, on the strategic Srinagar-Baramulla highway, which also leads to Muzaffarabad in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.

“Nine soldiers died on the spot,” a defence spokesman told IANS here.

He said over 20 soldiers were wounded in the blast that hit the bus which was part of the heavily escorted army convoy on way to Srinagar from the frontier Kupwara district.

A senior police officer said: “The bus was destroyed in the bombing. The explosion led to disruption of traffic on the highway.”

Helicopters were pressed into service to airlift the wounded soldiers from the blast site, the police officer said.

“It was a deadly attack. I ran for security. I saw bystanders including some women crying,” said Abdul Rashid, a resident.

Army troopers escorting the convoy surrounded the blast site and launched a search operation. However, no one was arrested.

A spokesman of the Hizbul Mujahideen guerrilla group phoned a Srinagar-based news agency to claim responsibility for the attack.

Saturday’s attack comes a day after 35 people, including six security men, were wounded in a powerful grenade blast at Banihal in Jammu region.

This was the worst terror attack around Srinagar since March 19 when suspected militants triggered a powerful blast ripping off an overpass near the civil secretariat and left about two dozen people injured. The Hizbul Mujahideen and Al-Madina militant outfits had claimed responsibility for that attack.

Defence Minister A.K. Antony condemned the militant attack, according to a press statement in Delhi.

Antony, in the press release, said: “This kind of cowardly attack will not deter the government from its path of holding free and fair elections (in Jammu and Kashmir) later this year”.

Noting that the people of Kashmir “want peace and prosperity”, he said the government “will not be found wanting in crushing the evil designs of the militants”.

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