Updated: June 28, 2021 9:56:49 am
Payloads of more than 2 kg each in improvised explosive devices (IEDs) fitted with impact charges were dropped on the Indian Air Force Station in Jammu on Saturday night, preliminary investigations have revealed.
Sources in the security establishment said there is evidence that two drones were used in the terrorist attack, and that a “high grade” explosive was used.
“The sentry at the base heard two separate whirring sounds followed by two blasts at an interval of six minutes. No remains of drones were found at the site, so it is suspected that they dropped their payload and went back,” a security establishment officer told The Indian Express.
A team each from the Bomb Data Centre of the National Security Guard (NSG) and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) were investigating at the IAF base. Jammu Police have registered an FIR on terrorism charges.
“Preliminary probe reveals that the payload may have been dropped from a height of at least 100 metres. The IEDs were fitted with impact charge where the detonation either happens immediately on impact or a few moments later,” another security establishment officer said.
“Total payload on each drone was more than 2 kg. The explosive is high grade and may be RDX, but conclusion can be drawn only after proper forensic examination,” this officer added.
Sources said the origin of the drones remains under investigation.
“There is suspicion that they came from Pakistan, as such drones have earlier dropped weapons in Jammu. The distance of the base from the border (14 km) is well within the range of drones earlier flown from Pakistan. However, one can’t rule out a local launch either, so all angles are being investigated,” a Jammu and Kashmir Police officer said.
It was also not clear what the target within the IAF base was, the sources said.
“Unless the attackers just wanted to show that India’s key security infrastructure can be easily targeted, the drones seem to have actually missed their target, as they haven’t caused any significant damage, certainly not to our aviation infrastructure,” an officer who is privy to details of the investigation told The Indian Express.
Another officer said drones anyway find it difficult to target with precision.
“Because of their light make and poor precision when flying with payload, they can have a dropping range of 100 m to 150 m, which means they can miss their mark by quite a distance,” this officer said.
“So it is difficult to say what they were actually targeting at the IAF base as of now. Further investigation may throw up some leads.”
The attack, probably the first launched by a drone in India, is being seen with utmost seriousness by the security establishment. “If bigger payloads are dropped, it could cause extensive damage and even loss of lives. It would also be very difficult to prevent such attacks as it would be easy to launch and not involve militants crossing the border and coordinating. We don’t yet have robust tech to detect and disable drones. They are difficult to sight as well,” a security establishment officer said.
Sources said it was likely the investigation would be formally handed to the NIA soon.
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