Sunday, July 04, 2021

Jammu Airport Attack: NIA probe suggests attackers used two drones

Eyewitnesses testimony has enabled the National Investigation Agency to piece together the route used by the drones which bombed Jammu airport last month, sources familiar with the case have told News18. Investigators believe the attackers used two drones, which flew north of the shrine of Baba Budhan Ali Shah, in the airport complex, before taking a 180 degrees turn after hitting their target and heading back west, in the direction of the India-Pakistan border.

The route, based on questioning sentries stationed along the airport’s western perimeter, behind the shrine, as well as inside the complex itself—suggests the drones likely flew a course high over the Tawi river, which leads to the India-Pakistan border, the sources said, before descending to stage the attack.

Forensic analysis has suggested that the explosive used in the attack was RDX, a widely-used military explosive, packed into a what are known as shaped charges—which direct explosive energy so it can penetrate armour or concrete. Islamic State jihadists have used similar devices to attack multiple targets since 2017—on one occasion, releasing video footage of a successful strike on an Iraqi-operated M1 Abrams battle tank.

“The explosive device seems to have been a simple device, triggered by its impact against the ground”, a military officer familiar with the investigation said. “You can easily rig conventional munitions for such a role”.

Even though there is no evidence so far on where the drones took off from or returned to, a Jammu Kashmir Police officer said multiple past investigations have suggested similar drones used to drop weapons in earlier cases were flown from locations across the border.

Last week, the police had arrested Nadeem Ayub Rather, a resident of Chak Cholend Herman near Shopian in Kashmir, and Talib-ur-Rehman, a resident of Kaskoot, near Ramban, alleging the two men were plotting to plant a 5 kilogram explosive device near the strategically-vital Banihal tunnel.

04/07/21 Praveen Swami/Moneycontrol

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