SRINAGAR: In a first terror attack of its kind, two low-intensity improvised explosive devices dropped by drones went off in a highly secure Indian Air Force base in Jammu, about 14 km off the International Border, in the early hours on Sunday.
Both blasts in the technical area of the airbase took place within five minutes of each other. While the first explosion around 1.37 am on an administrative building close to a helicopter hangar left a gaping hole on its roof, the second blast took place around 1.42 am in an open area. Two IAF personnel sustained splinter injuries, but no equipment was damaged.
The security establishment saw in it as a major escalation of the situation. A high alert has been sounded across the state and security cover at airports and government installations have been strengthened. Shortly after the attack, teams from the IAF, National Bomb Data Centre, forensic experts, J&K police, NIA, NSG and intelligence agencies reached the spot. The NIA is likely to take over the probe.
J&K police chief Dilbagh Singh confirmed it was a terror attack. Sources said investigation agencies are trying to ascertain whether the drones had come from across the International Border or were they remotely controlled from within Jammu by terrorists. How they managed to fly into the IAF station, where IAF personnel have observation posts, without being detected is a mystery.
Sources said security agencies are ascertaining whether the Jaish-e-Mohammad — which carried out the Pathankote airbase attack — was behind the pre-dawn bombing or was Lashkar-e-Toiba involved in it.
It is also being ascertained whether the target was an aircraft hangar or were the bombs intentionally dropped away from aircraft to send a message that there is no such thing as a safe installation any longer.
Whatever the reason, the safety of the IAF station has been breached for the first time in over three decades of militancy in J&K. “The drone attack is a new security challenge for the security agencies. It is a very serious issue and will need serious response,” a security official said.
Drone delivery of arms by pak troops
Since last year, Pakistani troops have been using drones to airdrop arms and ammunition for the militants along the International Border and Line of Control in J&K. In June last year, BSF jawans shot down a drone in Kathua district and recovered a US-made M-4 carbine rifle, two magazines, 60 rounds and seven Chinese grenades from the damaged drone. The weapons were meant for Jaish commander Ali Bhai