A pressure cooker bomb that exploded on a court complex in Nellore in Andhra Pradesh on September 12 has been found similar in construction to IEDs that have exploded on district court complexes in Chittoor in AP, Kollam in Kerala and Mysuru in Karnataka since April 7 this year, raising the suspicion that one group is behind all the blasts.
The pressure-cooker IED that exploded in Nellore has been found to have a very close resemblance to the pressure cooker used for the August 1 blast in Mysuru. The Mysuru device itself was a small variation of the steel-vessel IEDs that exploded on July 15 in Kollam and on April 7 in Chittoor, investigating sources said. The blasts are being probed by police teams in the respective states.
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In all of the first three blasts, the IEDs used printed circuit boards as timers, an array of 9-volt batteries for power, decoration lights as detonators, and easily available material from firecrackers to matches as explosive.
Sources said the device in Nellore used fewer 9 volt batteries and of a different make, as well as decoration lights for detonators and non-commercial explosives. Though no remains of a PCB timer were found in Nellore, a capacitor has been found indicating the possible usage of a PCB or a remote control used for toys as the triggering mechanism.
“The IED at Nellore seems to be like the devices in the other court blasts but the trigger mechanism may not have been the same. A capacitor has been found but how the device was triggered is not clear yet,’’ a source from among the investigators said.
In the Chittoor blast, the external cases of 14 batteries of 9V were found among the debris of the blast. In Kollam 18 batteries were found to have been used and in Mysuru the external cases of 12 batteries were found.
In the Nellore, Chittoor and Kollam cases, the IEDs were placed in a rexin bag and planted in the open on the district court complexes. In Mysuru, the IED was planted in a toilet on the court complex but no remnants of a bag were reported found. The explosive in Mysuru had been wrapped in a Malayalam newspaper. The PCBs used as timers in the Kerala and Karnataka devices were of the same make, sources said.
Investigations in the Chittoor and Kollam blasts have hinted at the possible involvement of splinters of the proscribed al-Ummah outfit from Tamil Nadu and Kerala in the court blasts. In a letter to a commercial tax office in Chittoor in April shortly after the Chittoor blast, a group called the “Base Movement” had claimed responsibility.
The Base Movement is suspected to be a new name assumed by former members of the al-Ummah and a few regional groups who have now sworn allegiance to the al-Qaeda. According to investigators, the IEDs that exploded on the court complexes seem to have been constructed with household and unregulated materials as described in bomb-making manuals created originally by the al-Qaeda and also distributed among Islamic State cadre in recent times.
A former member of the proscribed Students Islamic Movement of India, Alamzeb Afridi, 30, who was arrested in January by the NIA in connection with the December 2014 Bengaluru Church Street bomb blast that killed one person, has reportedly claimed he had made the pipe bomb with household materials from know-how shared via a password-protected document posted on the website justpaste.it by an Islamic State recruiter.
The document, titled “Bomb banane ka asaan tariqa (Bomb making made easy)”, has been found to have been used by several persons arrested around India this year by the NIA in connection with Islamic State recruitment plots allegedly operated by an Indian currently suspected to be with IS in Syria – Shafi Armar alias Yusuf al-Hindi.