Drone strike on Jammu IAF base: Himachal Pradesh, Punjab on high alert; what we know so far

A day after two bombs were dropped on an Indian Air Force (IAF) station in Jammu, the governments in Himachal Pradesh and Punjab have notif...

A day after two bombs were dropped on an Indian Air Force (IAF) station in Jammu, the governments in Himachal Pradesh and Punjab have notified a high alert in districts bordering the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, reports said.

On Sunday, two IAF personnel were injured in the explosions that took place around 1.40 am.

The first blast ripped off the roof of a single-storey building at the high-security technical area of the airport manned by the air force in Satwari area on the outskirts of the city. The second one was on the ground, according to officials.

Hearing the explosions, several people from areas such as Belicharana, Karan-Bagh, Gaddigar, Boharcamp and Satwari reached the air force station, despite Covid restrictions, with no idea that it had been hit by drones.

This is the first time that terrorists have used these unmanned and remote-controlled vehicles to strike a vital installation.

"The attack at the IAF station in Jammu was a terror attack," Jammu and Kashmir police chief Dilbag Singh told PTI. He said police and other agencies were working with IAF officials to unravel the plan behind the attack.

"There were reports of an explosion inside Air Force Station Jammu. There is no damage to any equipment. The investigation is on and further details are awaited," a defence spokesperson said.

What do we know about the attack?

  • Drones carrying ammunition dropped two bombs on an IAF station in Jammu, which was termed as a "terrorist attack" by the UT police chief.
  • Two Indian Air Force personnel were injured in the explosions that took place around 1.40 am within six minutes of each other.
  • A team from anti-terror probe agency National Investigation Agency (NIA), the agency that is leading the investigations, arrived at the spot. The initial investigation blasts suggested that the drones came from across the border, News18 quoted NIA sources as saying.
  • Preliminary reports confirmed that the blasts did not cause any major casualties or damage to equipment.
  • An FIR under the anti-terror Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act has been filed.
  • The IAF, the National Bomb Data Centre, and the Jammu and Kashmir Police are also conducting probes into the attack.
  • There was no disruption in the schedule of passenger flights, which also operate out of the station, which is a "dual-use facility under IAF control".
  • The aerial distance from the Jammu airport to the international border (IB) with Pakistan is 14 kilometres.
  • The drones dropped the explosive material and were either flown back across the border or to some other destination during the night, PTI reported.

What do we not know about the attack?

  • It was not immediately clear from where the drones had taken off and investigations are on to ascertain their flight path, PTI reported.
  • Investigators scanned CCTV footage, including from cameras installed on the boundary walls of the airport, in an effort to determine from where the drones came. However, all the CCTV cameras focused on the roadside.
  • Drones cannot be detected by radars deployed at border areas to monitor enemy activity, officials were quoted by PTI as saying, adding that a different radar system that can detect drones as small as a bird be installed.
  • What is also unclear so far is exactly how many drones were used in the attack and who operated them from where.
  • The Indian Express quoted sources as saying that "they have tracked several instances of drones dropping weapons, drugs and explosives in Jammu and Punjab in the past two-three years — including one just a month ago".

While officials were investigating the drone attack, another major strike was averted when a person, probably owing allegiance to the banned Lashkar-e-Taiba, was arrested along with an improvised explosive device weighing around six kg, the director-general of police said, as per PTI.

The person was charged with triggering the IED in a crowded place.

"The suspect has been detained and is being interrogated. More suspects are likely to be picked up in this foiled IED blast attempt," Singh said.

With inputs from agencies

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India World News: Drone strike on Jammu IAF base: Himachal Pradesh, Punjab on high alert; what we know so far
Drone strike on Jammu IAF base: Himachal Pradesh, Punjab on high alert; what we know so far
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