Catholic Church condemns Kashmir’s deadliest attack that killed 40 Indian soldiers

A Pakistan-based Islamic extremist group has claimed responsibility. A car full of explosives rammed a bus carrying soldiers. For Mgr Theodore Mascarenhas, "Violence can never solve any issue.”

Srinagar (AsiaNews) – At least 40 Indian soldiers were killed in the deadliest attack against India’s military in Indian-administered Kashmir.

The incident took place today in Srinagar, the largest city in the state, in north-western India.

According to the eyewitness accounts, a car filled with explosives rammed a bus carrying troops on the Srinagar-Jammu highway.

Speaking to AsiaNews, Mgr Theodore Mascarenhas, secretary general of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India (CBCI), condemned "the tragic event on behalf of India’s Catholic Church, which is mourning along with the rest of the country."

According to the latest reports, a Pakistani Islamic extremist group, Jaish-e-Mohammad, claimed responsibility.

On social media, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi strongly condemned what he called the “despicable” attack. All of India’s political leaders did the same.

The attack comes at one of the most delicate moments in the history of India, which is deeply divided ahead of next May’s general election.

The violence in kashmir could lead to more chaos, since state is one of the country’s most controversial issue.

Kashmir-and-Jammu straddles the border with Pakistan, and has been divided and disputed ever since the British Raj ended in 1947.

Over the years, tens of thousands of people have died, mostly civilians, as separatists try to take the territory out of the Indian Union.

The previous flareup dates back to 2016 when Indian security forces killed a famous separatist leader, Burhan Wani. In retaliation, militants stormed s military base at Uri killing 18 soldiers.

In Srinagar, residents have been under a tight curfew for months. Some volunteers and the Catholic parish of Srinagar have been able to provide help to ease their suffering.

"Our hearts are saddened and dismayed by this senseless and cowardly act of violence,” said Mgr Mascarenhas. “No words are strong enough to condemn this barbarism,” he added.

“We entrust in the hands of the Lord the souls of these brave men who died whilst doing their duty. We pray for the families who lost their loved ones.” In the end, “Violence can never solve any issue. Hence, we pray for peace and harmony."