Two unexploded IEDs to demystify attack on Jammu IAF station

Two unexploded IEDs recovered from the Jammu air force station hold clues to the investigation into the early morning airdropping of two other IEDs that exploded at the communication and logistics hub of the Indian Air Force.

The recovery of the unexploded IEDs has further added to the mystery of the first-ever drone attack on an air force asset as it indicates that the two suspected drones or the quadcopters had a significant payload carrying capacity.

The aerial attack is a first of its kind in the country. But this is the 45th drone strike carried out across the globe so far this year. While drone strikes are carried out by state agencies, aerial hits by terror groups through such machines are dubbed ‘attacks’ and the agencies are seeking to discriminate between the two through the ongoing investigation. 

Security agencies, meanwhile, are tracking Jammu-Pakistan calls after leads gathered from analysis of cell phone tower dump data even as a few Rohingyas are also under surveillance, sources said.

In the wee hours on Sunday, two blasts occurred at about 0140 Hours and 0146 Hours at the Air Force Station, Satwari, Jammu. The blasts occurred near Helicopter Dispersal Park. While one of the IEDs hit the top of the single-storey building the second explosive device hit the open ground area behind the structure.

Due to the impact of the IED blast at the rooftop, a crater was formed and the sound of the explosions was heard in a range of one kilometer which indicate use of high-grade explosives like RDX or PETN even as the forensic reports of the nature of blast material is awaited. Since the thickness of the roof built from RCC (reinforced concrete cement) slabs is between six to nine inches, low grade explosives could not have formed the crater, officials said.

“These pointers helped the investigators in concluding that the blast occurred due to an aerial/drone attack and that the likely target was a helicopter parked at the Helicopter Dispersal Park,” an official involved in the investigation said. No fatal casualty was reported from the incident.

The whirring sound of only two drones was heard. Following this, two out of four IEDs went unexploded and the investigators are studying the materials used for fabricating them.

All the IEDs were equipped with impact charge features to modulate the timing of the explosions.

The one that exploded on the roof of the building exploded just after hitting the surface. The other one that exploded in the open ground blasted after six minutes.

Cell phone tower dump data of the mobile phone network is also being analysed to trace possible clues or calls made in the immediate aftermath of the explosions at the air facility in Jammu. Jammu-Pakistan phone calls are also being tracked in order to trace the masterminds of the drone attacks, investigators related to the drone attacks probe said.

“It is highly plausible that dismantled drones were smuggled from Pakistan and assembled in Jammu before carrying out the attack on the air force station. However, the possibility of a drone flying from Pakistan to hit the target in Jammu is also being investigated. If the machines originated from Pakistan, then operation could be the handiwork of the state actors there,” officials added.

Meanwhile, the security agencies have conducted searches in a hamlet close to Satwari which is dominated by Rohingyas.

The security agencies are also grilling one arrested accused Nadeem, 20, from whose possession 5 kg IED was recovered by the Special Operations Group (SOG) of Jammu police on Sunday evening. Nadeem hails from Banihal town and was arrested by the SOG from Narwal area under Trikuta Nagar police station. Linkage between the seized IED and the drone attack is yet to be established.

Belying the prevailing trends in Jammu and Kashmir, no terror group has so far owned responsibility for the drone attacks.

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