efe-epaSrinagar, India

A curfew was imposed in the Jammu region of Indian Kashmir on Friday after violent protests erupted, following a deadly suicide attack by the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad against a police convoy that killed at least 42 policemen.

On Thursday evening, a suicide bomber had rammed a vehicle packed with explosives into a paramilitary convoy on a busy highway, around 25 km (some 16 miles) from the summer capital Srinagar, in what was the deadliest attack in the three-decade history of Kashmir insurgency.

On Friday, protesters set fire to many vehicles and damaged several others during a protest march in Jammu, the winter capital of the restive state, prompting authorities to impose restrictions and snap internet connectivity amid fears of a communal backlash.

District Magistrate Ramesh Kumar in a government order said curfew was imposed in Jammu "to maintain law and order, public tranquility and to protect life and property of general public".

Eyewitnesses said violence erupted in the Muslim-dominated Gujjar Nagar neighborhood of Jammu amid a shutdown to protest the attack.

The shutdown call was given by various political outfits and students and lawyer groups in Jammu, a largely Hindu-majority region in India's only Muslim-majority state.

Eyewitnesses told EFE that police and paramilitary personnel were deployed after vehicles were set ablaze and vandalized in Gujjar Nagar area by the protesters.

"Anti-national elements are trying to disturb the (communal) harmony in Jammu," Jammu Inspector General of Police MK Sinha told reporters, asking people "not to play in the hands of anti-national elements."

Protesters also burnt Pakistani flags and pictures of Jaish leader Masood Azhar, who is believed to be hiding in Pakistan.

The group has been previously blamed for some of the deadliest attacks in India, including the 2001 attack on the Indian Parliament in New Delhi that killed nine, and an attack on the Jammu and Kashmir legislative assembly building the same year that left 31 dead.

The attack has further damaged the already tense India-Pakistan diplomatic relations with New Delhi claiming it had evidence of Islamabad's involvement in the carnage.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday had also warned of a "crushing response" to the attack.

Pakistan was, however, quick to condemn the attack and dismiss the accusations.

In Kashmir, former chief ministers of the state, Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah, said the eruption of violence in Jammu was disturbing.

Mufti tweeted that she was "distressed to hear about miscreants in Jammu trying to take advantage of the situation by inciting tension."

Calling the reports of "violence and arson in Jammu deeply worrying", Abdullah said "giving vent to anger by attacking innocent people because of their ethnicity or religion is no way to honor the sacrifices" by the security forces, who were killed in Thursday's attack.

The Joint Resistance Leadership, an alliance of separatist leaders in Kashmir said, it "regret(s) every killing that happens on (the) soil" of Kashmir.

The group urged the Indian government to end hostilities and "reach out and engage and listen to the concerns of all stakeholders in the spirit of humanity and justice (and) resolve the Kashmir dispute for all times."

The idyllic Kashmir Valley in north India has been battling three decades of an armed rebellion that has left tens of thousands dead and many more injured.

The volatile region is divided into India-administered and Pakistan-administered Kashmir, although both India and Pakistan claim complete sovereignty over the region.

The countries have fought two major wars and several minor conflicts over the territory that is separated by a provisional border, making it one of the most militarized regions in the world.

India blames Pakistan for sponsoring terrorism in Kashmir - an allegation Islamabad has been denying with counter accusations that Indian forces were committing human rights abuses against Kashmiris.