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Toll climbs to 30 in worst terror attack under Modi government

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Indian security men inspect at the site blast in Lethpora area of south Kashmir' s Pulwama district some 20 kilometers from Srinagar, the summer capital of Indian Kashmir, 14 February 2019.

[NEW DELHI] Dozens of Indian security forces were killed today and many more injured in the most serious terrorist attack to occur during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's tenure.

At least 30 personnel were killed in an attack on their convoy in Jammu and Kashmir, according to the Press Trust of India. An ambush on a military camp in Uri in 2016 that killed 19 people prompted India to launch cross-border attacks against Pakistan.

Mr Modi condemned the attack, which he described as "despicable" in a tweet on Thursday evening. "The sacrifices of our brave security personnel shall not go in vain."

Central Reserve Police Force Deputy Inspector General M Dhinakaran confirmed at least one bus carrying 39 passengers was attacked as the convoy - which consisted of 77 vehicles and about 2,500 personnel - traveled through Pulwama district, 35 kilometers outside the capital, Srinagar. Investigations are continuing into the exact number of dead and injured, he said.

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Senior government minister Arun Jaitley said in a tweet those responsible "will be given an unforgettable lesson for their heinous act."

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

This attack, which occurred in the run-up to India's general elections, puts Mr Modi in a difficult situation, said Abhijnan Rej, a New Delhi-based security analyst. A limited response leaves him open to opposition accusations that he's weak on national security, while a strong military reaction could lead to an escalation, and accusations that he's mismanaged the Kashmir situation, he said.

"There will be enormous pressure on him to do something," Mr Rej said. "Between this, the elections, the nature of the attack, and the situation in Kashmir, this really complicates things for Modi."

Kashmir has been divided between India and Pakistan since the end of British rule in 1947, but both claim the disputed territory in full.

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