India identifies owner of car used in Kashmir bombing

India identifies owner of car used in Kashmir bombing
Indian Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel stand guard in front of closed shops in Srinagar, February 25, 2019. REUTERS/Danish Ismail Copyright DANISH ISMAIL(Reuters)
Copyright DANISH ISMAIL(Reuters)
By Reuters
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NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India’s National Investigation Agency (NIA) said on Monday it had identified the owner of the car used in the bombing of a security convoy in the disputed region of Kashmir, which has exacerbated tensions with arch-foe Pakistan.

The attack in Indian-controlled Kashmir killed at least 40 paramilitary police on Feb. 14, in the deadliest single assault on Indian forces in 30 years of insurgency in the Muslim-majority region.

The Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) claimed responsibility for the attack in the Pulwama district of Kashmir.

The NIA identified the owner of the car as Sajjad Bhat, a student at a religious school in the Shopain area of Kashmir who is believed to have joined the JeM.

Police raided his home for more information and his links to the 20-year bomber who slammed the car into the convoy of the paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).

"Piecing together remnants of the vehicle used by the suicide bomber in the Pulwama terror attack on CRPF convoy, from the scene of incident, NIA investigators, with the support of forensic and automobile experts have been able to identify the vehicle used for the blast," it said in the statement.

India accuses Pakistan of harbouring the JeM and has vowed a strong response to the attack. Pakistan has demanded that it provide proof to back its claim.

Indian authorities have also vowed to crack down on militants and separatists fighting Indian rule in Kashmir.

Twenty suspected separatists were arrested in the latest swoop on Sunday, officials said after authorities killed at least eight JeM militants and detained around 50 militants, sympathizers and their relatives since the bomb attack.

(Reporting by Fayaz Bukhari; Writing by Aftab Ahmed; Editing by Gareth Jones)

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