Two explosions that rocked an Indian Air Force station in the northern region of Jammu were attacks caused by explosives-laden drones and orchestrated by Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) terror group, according to Indian police and ministry sources.
In what is believed to be the first of its kind attack on an air base station in the country, two Indian Air Force (IAF) personnel suffered minor injuries in the blast.
Following the initial investigation, it has been revealed that the Pakistan-based terror group was attempting to target the air traffic control (ATC) tower of the airbase with one drone and another was either intended to bomb a parked IAF helicopter or the radar, a top Indian military official told the Hindustan Times.
“The two IEDs weighing around 5-6 kilograms with RDX as the main explosive charge were dropped at a distance of 50 yards from each other,” a senior security official said.
“One charge was some 40 yards from the ATC, while the other was around the same distance from the parked helicopter”.
But the handlers missed the target maybe due to “faulty execution or high wind factor,” he said.
The suspected twin drone strike that happened just minutes apart took place about 14.5 kilometres away from the international border with neighbouring Pakistan after midnight on Sunday.
One blast blew off a portion of the roof of a building in the technical section of the airbase while another exploded in open space.
An Indian security official told the Hindustan Times the two drones took a flight from across the border to Jammu airport and flew back to Pakistan after the attack.
Hours after the blast shook the air base, police in India’s restive Jammu and Kashmir arrested a man allegedly with a cache of 4kg explosives that was suspected to be used for another blast in a crowded place.
Jammu and Kashmir police chief Dilbagh Singh said they averted another IED blast by Pakistan-based out LeT by seizing the explosives.
"Another crude bomb was found by the Jammu police. This IED was received by a Lashkar e Taiba operative and was to be planted at some crowded place,” NDTV quoted the officer as saying.
Talking about the blasts on Sunday, he told media “drones with payload were used in both the blasts.”
The blast took place hours before Indian defence minister Rajnath Singh and army chief General MM Naravane were to begin their three-day visit to Ladakh to review the situation amid ongoing de-escalation with China.
"Efforts should be made to find a solution through dialogue with the neighboring countries. The intention should be clear. We neither want to show eyes to anyone, nor is it acceptable to show anyone’s eyes. Our army has the capability to give a befitting reply to every challenge", India’s defence minister said in a tweet on Monday.
A complaint was filed against unnamed people in the incident under the anti-terror Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act that allows the arrest of suspects and their detention for up to six months without evidence.
The case is being investigated by India’s National Investigation Agency, a counter-terrorist task force.
The airbase in the southern city of Jammu is in the Indian-administered part of Kashmir. There has been a long-standing dispute between India and Pakistan over the Jammu and Kashmir region. The valley is governed by both in parts but claimed in its entirety by both India and Pakistan.
India and Pakistan in February reached an agreement to stop cross border firing along the Line of Control, a demarcated border that separates the two countries.