NIA takes over Jammu IAF station blast probe, police eye on Lashkar

The police have registered a case under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in connection with the blasts.

ON THE day the National Investigation Agency (NIA) took over the probe into the blasts at the IAF station in Jammu, believed to have been caused by explosive devices dropped by drones, sources in J&K Police told The Indian Express that they suspect the role of terror outfit Lashkar-e-Toiba in the attack.

The sources said that a few hours before the attack, police apprehended a Lashkar-e-Toiba operative with nearly 5 kg of Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) outside a shopping mall on Saturday evening. A police team from Jammu later seized documents, including books, from the house of the operative in Banihal, an officer said.

The police have registered a case under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in connection with the blasts. On Tuesday, after the probe was handed over by the Ministry of Home Affairs, the NIA registered a case under the Explosive Substances Act, UAPA, and IPC sections on criminal conspiracy and attempt to murder.

According to sources, a bomb disposal squad of the National Security Guard (NSG) is investigating the nature of the explosive devices used in the blasts in which two persons sustained minor splinter injuries.

Sources said investigators suspect that two drones were used in the attack and were programmed with Google Maps to reach the targeted location. However, sources said, they appear to have missed the target as one of the blasts occurred in a building adjoining the hangar where helicopters were stationed and another in an open area.

No parts or material have turned up in searches conducted within the station and surrounding areas, prompting investigators to suspect that the drones may have crossed the border after dropping the payloads. The possibility of a local handler is also being probed, sources said.

“A mix of RDX with some other explosive material appears to have been used to make the payload lighter so that these flying machines could cover more distance. Investigations are in progress,” sources said.

The aerial distance between the IAF station and the nearest International Border point at Phallian Mandal is 14 km. There have been instances previously of drones from the Pakistan side dropping weapons up to a distance of 12 km from the border, sources said.

On Monday, the Army said it sighted drones over the Kaluchak-Ratnuchak military stations the previous night, and that its troops opened fire to avert “a major threat”.

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