Srinagar, Jul 19 (UNI) In the first major strike this year, militants triggered a powerful Improvised Explosive Device (IED) on the Sriangar-Muzaffarabad road, that left nine soldiers dead and 18 others wounded this afternoon.
The Hizbul Mujahideen (HM) has claimed responsiblity for the blast.
In other militancy-related incidents across the Valley, security forces gunned down six militants, including five heavily armed Pakistani infiltrators today.
Official sources said the militants had planted an IED on the roadside, ahead of Narbal crossing where road-widening work was in progress.
They said as the convoy of 79 Brigade passed from the area, militants triggered the IED, reportedly through a remote control device (RCD), targetting a bus carrying the soldiers.
The bus was blown up in the blast and the sound was audible in the area upto the radius of five kms.
Eyewitnesses said the bodies and wounded soldiers were seen on the road after the incident.
Sources said eight soldiers died on the spot and 19 others were injured. Later, one more injured succumbed before he could be shifted to hospital.
A UNI correspondent, who visited the spot, saw the bus totally damaged in the blast, a first this year. This was also the first major strike by the militants after the imposition of the Governors' rule in the state.
The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and police personnel were the first to reach the spot and help in shifting the injured to the hospital.
Traffic on the Srinagar-Baramulla road was suspended for about an hour.
A caller, who identified himself as spokesman of the HM, said the Mujahideen of the outfit carried out the attack on the Army convoy.
Threatening to carry out such attack in future, he claimed that over 12 Army personnel were killed and scores were wounded.
A police handout issued this evening said that at 1600 hrs, an IED blast took place on Narbal-Dumail road (Pattan), when the security forces convoy, on way from Chowkibal to Srinagar, was passing through the road, as a result of which one army bus got damaged.
Seven security personnel lost their lives, while 20 others sustained injuries. Details are being ascertained, he said.
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