At least 37 Indian paramilitary personnel were killed in a car bombing in Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday, police said.
The attack took place around 3:15 p.m. local time (2015GMT) when an explosive-laden vehicle rammed into a paramilitary bus in Awantipora, a town along the highway connecting state capital Srinagar to Anantnag, a southern district, according to the police.
"The exact number of casualties is being ascertained, so far 33 fatal casualties have been confirmed," Jammu and Kashmir police said in a statement on Thursday evening. The death toll later rose to 37.
"The injured have been shifted to hospitals for medical treatment."
However, sources from the police department put the death toll at over 40. According to official sources, the vehicle was carrying some 350 kilograms (around 772 pounds) of explosives.
The militant outfit Jaish-e-Muhammad claimed responsibility for the attack. Member of the group who carried out the attack has been identified as Adil Ahmad of Pulwama district in Kashmir, who had joined militancy a year ago.
Earlier, Omar Abdullah, former chief minister, condemned the attack in a tweet.
"Terrible news coming from the valley. A number of CRPF soldiers are reported to have been killed & injured in an IED blast. I condemn this attack in the strongest possible terms. My prayers for the injured & condolences to the families of the bereaved. #Kashmir," he said.
Turkey expressed "sorrow" over the deadly terrorist attack.
"We condemn this heinous attack. We extend our condolences to the families of the deceased and to the people and Government of India, and wish speedy recovery to the wounded," Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a written statement.
It also expressed concern over the increasing tension and casualties that have been occurring in the area recently.
"We […] hope that the problem will be settled through dialogue and within the framework of the relevant U.N. resolutions," the statement said.
This is the deadliest attack for Indian forces in three decades of armed rebellion in Kashmir. Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh will visit Kashmir on Friday to inspect the security situation in the area.
Jammu and Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.
Since they were partitioned in 1947, the two countries have fought three wars -- in 1948, 1965 and 1971 -- two of them over Kashmir.
Also, in Siachen glacier in northern Kashmir, Indian and Pakistani troops have fought intermittently since 1984. A cease-fire came into effect in 2003.
Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or for unification with neighboring Pakistan.
According to several human rights organizations, thousands of people have reportedly been killed in the conflict in the region since 1989.
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