Car bomb strikes Indian military convoy in Kashmir

One bus was destroyed and five other vehicles were damaged by the explosion

An ambulance drives on a highway, traveling from the direction of a large explosion, in Pampore, Indian-controlled Kashmir, Thursday, Feb. 14, 2019. Security officials say at least 10 soldiers have been killed and 20 others wounded by a large explosion that struck a paramilitary convoy on a key highway  on the outskirts of the disputed region's main city of Srinagar. (AP Photo/Dar Yasin)

At least 18 soldiers were killed and up to 35 others wounded Thursday in a car bomb attack on a paramilitary convoy on a key highway in Indian-controlled Kashmir, security officials said.

Senior police officer Muneer Ahmed Khan said the attack occurred as the convoy reached Pampore on the outskirts of the disputed region's main city of Srinagar. He said one bus was destroyed in the convoy – which consisted of 70 vehicles and 2,500 personnel – and at least five other vehicles were damaged by the blast.

Pakistan-backed Jaish-e-Mohammed claimed responsibility for the attack, according to Asian News International.

Mr Khan said soldiers and counterinsurgency police reinforcements were deployed in the area and the injured were evacuated to hospitals.

Kashmir's Police Chief S.P. Pani said the Central Reserve Police Force had suffered major damage.

"It is a terror incident and we are looking into the possibility of what led to the blast. We are going to go for post-blast investigation", he told Reuters.

India and Pakistan each claim the divided territory of Kashmir in its entirety. Rebels have been fighting Indian control since 1989.

Most Kashmiris support the rebels' demand that the territory is united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country, while also participating in civilian street protests against Indian control.

About 70,000 people have been killed in the uprising and the ensuing Indian crackdown.

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