• Monday, November 28, 2022

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India probes suspected drone attack at Jammu air base

An Indian air force officer (L) gestures as he guards outside the Jammu Air Force Station entry gate where two low intensity explosions were reported early morning, in Jammu on June 27, 2021. (Photo by Rakesh BAKSHI / AFP)

By: Sarwar Alam

IN what was called a drone attack by Pakistan-based terrorists for the first time, two bombs were dropped at the Indian Air Force (IAF) station in Jammu airport in the early hours of Sunday (June 27), officials said. The airport where the blasts took place is used for VVIP movements and strategic operations of the armed forces.

Two air force officials suffered minor injuries in the explosions that took place within six minutes of each other. While the first one ripped off the roof of a single-storey building at the airport’s high-security technical area looked after by the IAF in Satwari area on the outskirts of Jammu, the second one took place on the ground, according to the officials.

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The Jammu and Kashmir Police registered a first information report under sections 16 and 18 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act in connection with the explosions. These provisions are related to commission and conspiracy of terrorist acts. An alert has been raised across the Jammu division.

“The attack at the IAF station in Jammu is a terror attack,” Jammu and Kashmir police chief Dilbag Singh said. He said the police and other agencies were working with the IAF officials to expose the plan behind the attack. A team from anti-terror probe body National Investigation Agency was also at the spot to help the probe.

The origin of the drones’ flight was not immediately clear and investigation was on to ascertain their flight paths. Investigators scanned CCTV footage, including those gathered through cameras installed on the boundary walls of the airport, to determine from where the drones came. But all the CCTV cameras focused on the roadside, the officials added.

Radars deployed at border areas to monitor enemy activity could not detect drones, they said, suggesting that a different radar system that can detect drones as small as a bird be installed. The officials said the drones dropped the explosive material and were either flown back across the border or to some other destination in the night. The aerial distance from the Jammu airport to the international border is 2.5 miles.

The incident happened just a few days after Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and home minister Amit Shah met a number of leaders from Jammu and Kashmir in New Delhi to discuss the situation in the state.

Indian defence minister Rajnath Singh spoke to Vice Air Chief Air Marshal H S Arora over the explosions, his office said. The air force said in a tweet, “Raksha Mantri Shri @rajnathsingh spoke to Vice Air Chief, Air Marshal HS Arora regarding today’s incident at Air Force Station in Jammu. Air Marshal Vikram Singh is reaching Jammu to take stock of the situation.”

Chief of Air Staff Marshal R K S Bhadauria, who is on a three-day visit to Bangladesh starting Saturday (26), has also been apprised.

Meanwhile, as officials were investigating the drone attack, another major strike was averted when a person, probably linked to the banned Lashker-e-Taiba, was arrested along with an improvised explosive device weighing around six kilograms, the director general of police said.

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