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India warns Pakistan of ‘strong response’ after attack on paramilitaries in Kashmir

18 February 2019
Dozens of Indian paramilitary personnel were killed on 14 February as a result of a suicide car bombing in Indian-administered Kashmir. Source: STR/AFP/Getty Images

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has vowed to send a "strong response" to Pakistan, which he holds responsible for a suicide car bombing that took place on 14 February in Indian-administered Kashmir killing 44 paramilitary personnel and badly injuring at least 24 others.

"I want to tell the terrorist organisations and their patrons that they have committed a huge mistake, and will pay a huge price for it," Modi said on 15 February. Speaking immediately after a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS), which included India's military chiefs, the prime minister added that the country's security forces have been given "full freedom" to respond to the attack, but did not elaborate.

The announcement came after Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) claimed responsibility for attacking the paramilitary convoy at Awantipora on the outskirts of Kashmir's summer capital, Srinagar.

More than 2,700 paramilitary personnel from India's Central Reserve Police Force were travelling to Srinagar in a 78-vehicle convoy, when a 22-year-old suicide bomber crashed a car loaded with more than 60 kg of explosives into one of the buses that was stationary in traffic.

Arun Jaitley, a senior minister in the Modi administration, pointed out that India would take all possible measures to ensure Pakistan's "complete diplomatic isolation". This would include India scrapping the 'Most Favoured Nation' trade privileges it had extended to Pakistan for several years, he said.

However, analysts, pointed out that this revocation is unlikely to have a meaningful effect on Pakistan, as its annual bilateral trade with India amounts to about USD2 billion.

In a further reaction, India's Ministry of External Affairs summoned Pakistani High Commissioner Sohail Mahmood to protest about the attack and demand that Islamabad take "verifiable action" against the JeM. India also recalled Ajay Bisaria, its High Commissioner in Islamabad, for "consultations", officials said.

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