MHA hands over Jammu IAF airbase attack case to NIA

MHA hands over Jammu IAF airbase attack case to NIA

Investigators were yet to determine the flight path of the drones that dropped the bombs as they scanned the CCTV footage

Security personnel patrol after two low intensity explosions reported in the technical area of Jammu Air Force Station in the early hours of Sunday. Credit: PTI

The Investigation Agency (NIA) has taken over a probe into Sunday’s Jammu airport attack triggered by drones in which two Indian Air Force (IAF) personnel received minor injuries.

In the first case of the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) by militants to target a security installation in J&K, two explosives-laden drones crashed into a high-security IAF station at Jammu airport, damaging the roof of a building during the wee hours of Sunday.

Sources told DH that after getting clearance from the Union Home Ministry to take over the probe into the first-ever terror attack using drones in the country, the elite counter-terrorism unit is expected to lodge a case to begin the probe officially.

An NIA team led by SP Rakesh Balwal was among the first at the scene of the twin blasts and has already submitted a preliminary report of the incident to the ministry.

Though the security agencies are tight-lipped about the incident, preliminary investigations have revealed that an RDX with an impact device was used in twin drone attacks on the IAF station. “It was an impact mechanism blast which was caused by the impact device in which RDX had been used,” a top police official engaged in investigations told DH.

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He said it seems that the drones had been launched from across the border as there were instances earlier also in Akhnoor and Rajouri districts, where they had flown about 10 kilometers inside the Indian territory.
 
“The border is just 14 kilometres away from the Jammu airport and possibly the drones returned back after dropping the payloads as no meaningful debris were found after the attack. The drones were suspected to be flying at a height of 1.2 kilometers and would have been powered by long-range batteries,” the official added.

J&K police chief Dilbagh Singh believes that most probably Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) outfit was behind the drone attacks. “In most of the previous arms smuggling through drones along the Line of Control (LoC) as well as International Border (IB), the role of the LeT outfit was established. Drones are mostly being used by the LeT,” Singh said.

The twin drone attacks coincided with the recovery of six kilogram IED by the police from a Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) operative leading to the detention of at least three suspects in Jammu. “It is being investigated whether recovery of IED has any links with the drone attack on Air Force station,” a senior official said.

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