A "very low-intensity" explosion took place near the Israel embassy in the national capital on Friday evening during the Beating Retreat ceremony, which marks the culmination of the Republic Day celebrations, around two km away at Raisina Hills.
Delhi Police said that the "initial impressions (sic) suggest a mischievous attempt to create a sensation" but the incident sent shivers down the security establishment as India's top political and military leadership, including President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, were at Vijay Chowk on Raisina Hills watching at the Beating Retreat ceremony
This incident also came on a day when India and Israel celebrated 29 years of India-Israel diplomatic relations.
No one was injured in the incident but windshields of three vehicles parked on the APJ Abdul Kalam Road, where the embassy is located, were damaged, police said.
"A very low intensity improvised device went off at 5.05 PM near 5, APJ Abdul Kalam Road near Jindal house. No injury to any person is there and nor any damage to property was witnessed except window panes of three vehicles parked nearby. Initial impressions suggest a mischievous attempt to create a sensation," a Delhi Police spokesperson said.
While Jindal House number is five, the Israel embassy's address is 3, APJ Abdul Kalam Road.
Union Home Minister Amit Shah was briefed by Intelligence Bureau Director Arvind Kumar and Delhi Police Commissioner S N Shrivastava. National Security Advisor Ajit Doval was also briefed.
Sources said an alert has also been issued at all airports, important installations and government buildings following the blast. Security was also stepped up at Metro stations, airports and government buildings.
Sources said the explosion took place near the pavement and it is speculated that the Improvised Explosive Device (IED) was placed inside a flower pot on the road divider. Investigators have started checking CCTV cameras on the street for clues.
Police personnel cordoned off the APJ Abdul Kalam Road and experts from the bomb squad among others were examining the site. Senior officials from the Intelligence Bureau, National Investigation Agency and Delhi Police's Special Cell were at the site soon after the news came out.
Earlier in the day, the embassy tweeted a video in the afternoon and said, "Today we celebrate 29 years of India-Israel diplomatic relations. As we wish our #GrowingPartnership a Happy Birthday, let's take a look back at the key moments from last year which made our relationship stronger than ever."
"Spoke just now to Israeli FM @Gabi_Ashkenazi about the explosion outside the Israeli Embassy. We take this very seriously. Assured him of the fullest protection for the Embassy and Israeli diplomats. Matter is under investigation and no effort will be spared to find the culprits," he said.
On 13 February, 2012, a motorcycle-borne youth had tailed a car of the Israel embassy on Aurangzeb Road, which was renamed as APJ Abdul Kalam Road, and placed explosives. Within seconds, the car went up in flames and investigators had put the blame on Iranian spies. A journalist Syed Mohammad Ahmed Kazmi was arrested and charge-sheeted in the case but those who actually planted the bomb were not arrested yet.
Three persons, including Israeli defence attache’s wife, were injured in the incident. They were on their way to pick up the defence attache's children from school.