India lashed out at Pakistan today as nearly 40 personnel of the Central Reserve Police Force died in what turned out to be the worst terror attack on the armed forces in Jammu and Kashmir. The terror group Jaish-e Mohammad has taken responsibility for the strike in which a suicide bomber drove an explosive-laden vehicle into a CRPF convoy on the Jammu Srinagar highway this afternoon.
The attack came months after Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan's assurance that it was "not in our interest to allow use of Pakistan's territory for terror outside".
In a statement late in the evening, New Delhi said, "This terror group is led by the international terrorist Masood Azhar, who has been given full freedom by Government of Pakistan to operate and expand his terror infrastructure in territories under the control of Pakistan and to carry out attacks in India and elsewhere with impunity".
"We demand that Pakistan stop supporting terrorists and terror groups operating from their territory and dismantle the infrastructure operated by terrorist outfits to launch attacks in other countries," the statement read.
Investigators said Adil Ahmad Dar, a terrorist who joined Pakistan-based terror group last year, drove the Scorpio that carried more than 350 kg of explosives.
Sources said Jaish had recently uploaded a video online, warning about a terror attack in Kashmir. The video showed an attack in Afghanistan where an explosive-filled vehicle was used.
The group's chief Masood Azhar was arrested in Kashmir in 1994. But he was released in 1999 along with two other Pakistani terrorists in return for the lives of 155 passengers held hostage in an Indian Airlines aircraft that was hijacked to Kandahar in Afghanistan.
Jaish-e Mohammad has been blacklisted by the 15-nation United Nations Security Council, but Masood Azhar gets a free run in Pakistan.
China, a strategic ally of Pakistan, has repeatedly blocked India's efforts to put him on the list of the UN Security Council's 1267 Sanctions Committee. If blacklisted, the 49-year-old would face a global travel ban and asset freeze.
The attacks Jaish-e-Mohammed was involved in includes the deadly strike on the Pathankot air force base in 2016. Seven military personnel were killed in the operation to flush out the four terrorists who had infiltrated the air base.
Islamabad had rejected the evidence about the involvement of Masood Azhar that India had placed before its five-member investigative team, which came to probe the attack site at Pathankot.