A convoy of buses carrying Indian policemen in Kashmir became a disfigured wreck of steel and bloodied body parts after a bomber rammed a auto full of explosives into one of the vehicles on Thursday, killing at least 44 officers and injuring almost 20 others, according to the latest count from Reuters and local newspapers.
Police said the suicide bomber-driven SUV came along the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) bus when a 78-vehicle convoy carrying 2,547 security personnel was going from the transit camp in Jammu to Srinagar and rammed it into the bus around 3.15 p.m., triggering a deafening explosion.
India and Pakistan have fought three wars and a limited conflict since independence from Britain in 1947 - all but one were over Kashmir.
The damage to the Indian side with the IED blast was far heavier than the casualties from the September 2016 JeM attack on an army brigade headquarters in Uri.
The attack could put Modi, who faces a general election due by May, under political pressure to act against the militants and Pakistan.
A terror outfit regrouping in a particular region needs to "announce" itself, and that's what Jaish-e-Mohammed did in Pulwama yesterday, when a fidayeen named Adil Ahmad drove an explosives-laden vehicle into a CRPF convoy, killing 44 personnel.
Investigations are continuing into the exact number of dead and injured, he said.
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Meanwhile, India slammed Pakistan over the Pulwama terror attack and asked the neighbouring country to stop supporting terrorists and dismantle terror infrastructure operating from its soil.
The death toll from an attack on security forces in occupied Kashmir has hit 25, police said on Thursday, making it the deadliest since 2002. "The sacrifices of our courageous security personnel shall not go in vain".
Local media reports said the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed Islamist group claimed responsibility.
India and Pakistan each claim Kashmir in its entirety. Thoughts and prayers with the families of martyrs and wishing an early recovery to those injured. The entire nation stands shoulder to shoulder with the families of the fearless martyrs and may the injured recover quickly. In a tweet, Mr Jaitley said, the nation salutes the martyred soldiers and we all stand united with their families.
"Our forces will remain firm against such acts of terror and defeat them", he said on Twitter.
Modi condemned the latest attack, calling it dastardly.
India blamed militants in Pakistan for that attack, the biggest in 14 years, and responded by carrying out strikes across the heavily-militarized Line of Control, the de-facto border dividing the nuclear-armed nations.