Minor blast near Israeli Embassy in Delhi, no injuries reported

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New Delhi, Jan 29 (PTI) A minor IED blast took place near the Israeli Embassy in the heart of Lutyens' Delhi on Friday evening, police said. No one was injured.

Some cars were damaged in the blast in the very high-security zone. Delhi Police Additional PRO Anil Mittal said initial impressions suggest that it could be a mischievous attempt to create a sensation.

The blast took place when President Ram Nath Kovind, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi were present a few kilometres away at the Beating Retreat ceremony at the culmination of the Republic Day celebrations.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar spoke to his Israeli counterpart Gabi Ashkenazi and assured him of 'fullest protection' to diplomats and the mission.

In a tweet, he said India has taken the incident 'very seriously'. The matter is under investigation and 'no effort will be spared to find the culprits,' he said.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah has been in touch with the Delhi Police top brass and is constantly monitoring the situation.

Delhi Police Commissioner S N Shrivastava visited the site in the evening and took stock of the situation.

The CISF which guards civil airports, vital nuclear and aerospace installations, Delhi Metro and central government buildings has put on alert all its units across the country after the blast, official sources said.

The paramilitary force has directed its personnel to enhance vigil at the 63 civil airports and the Delhi Metro under its cover, besides vital installations in the nuclear and aerospace domain.

The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) units that guard various government buildings in the national capital have been asked to maintain a 'high level of alert', they said.

In February 2012, an attack had occurred on an Isreali embassy diplomat's car when a motorcycle-borne person stuck an explosive to the vehicle at a traffic signal. The bomb had exploded seconds later, injuring the diplomat and three others.

Delhi Police Additional PRO Mittal said, 'A very low intensity improvised device went off 5.05 pm. No injury to any person was reported, nor was there any damage to property except the glass panes of three vehicles parked nearby.' Preliminary investigation revealed that a bomb was planted in a flower pot on the median on APJ Abdul Kalam Road outside the embassy, sources said.

On Friday, the bomb disposal squad of the Delhi Police carried our searches at the blast site to find out if there were more explosives in the area. Forensic experts also examined the blast site, an official said.

Sources said that some ball bearings used in making bomb were recovered near the blast site which is around 150 metres away from the Israeli Embassy. The site is also near Jindal House, which houses Jaipuria House and Meghalaya House.

Samples of dust and grass from nearby area have been taken. It occurred near a tree. Some metal things have also been collected, a source said.

'We have handed over everything to investigating officers. The investigating officer will send it to our laboratory. There was an explosion and what type of explosion it was will be disclosed after the examination. Two teams of 10 experts reached the blast site,' Rajnish, a forensic expert, told reporters.

The fire department received a call about the blast at 5.11 pm. A fire department official told reporters that they had received the blast call and no one was injured in the explosion.

There was a heavy deployment of police personnel and APJ Abdul Kalam Road road has been cordoned off.

Officials said that they are scanning footage of CCTV cameras installed nearby to ascertain the sequence of events. Senior officers of the Delhi Police are on the sport.

Reacting to the blast, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said any attempt to disturb peace should be firmly dealt with.

'Concerned by the news of a blast near Israeli Embassy in Delhi. Agencies are determining the nature and cause of the blast. Thankfully, no loss of life reported yet. Any attempt to disturb the peace of Delhi shud be firmly dealt with,' he tweeted. PTI NIT BUN BUN SMN SMN