Press Trust of india

‘Drones drop explosives at IAF station in Jammu airport’

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Two IAF personnel injured

Jammu: Two drones were used to drop two bombs at the IAF station in Jammu airport in the early hours of Sunday, officials said.

Two Indian Air Force personnel were injured in the explosions that took place around 1.40 am within six minutes of each other.

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

“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 IAF officials to unravel the plan behind the attack. A team from anti-terror probe agency National Investigation Agency (NIA) was also at the spot.

It was not immediately clear from where the drones had taken off and investigations were on to ascertain their flight path, officials said.

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, officials said.

Drones cannot be detected by radars deployed at border areas to monitor enemy activity, they said, suggesting that a different radar system that can detect drones as small as a bird be installed.

“The drones dropped the explosive material and were either flown back across the border or to some other destination during the night,” the officials said.

The aerial distance from the Jammu airport to the international border is 14 km.

While officials were investigating the drone attack, another major strike was averted when a person, probably owing allegiance to the banned Lashker-e-Taiba, was arrested along with an improvised explosive device (IED) weighing around six kg, the DGP said.

“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.

Officials said three more people have been rounded up for questioning.

Giving details of the person detained with the IED, the officials said he belongs to Banihal area in Jammu region and was tasked with planting the IED in a crowded place before getting enrolled in a militant group.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s office said he spoke to Vice Air Chief, Air Marshal H S Arora, over the airport incident.

In a Twitter post, the IAF said two “low-intensity explosions” were reported early Sunday morning in the technical area of Jammu air force station.

“One caused minor damage to the roof of a building while the other exploded in an open area. There was no damage to any equipment. Investigation is in progress along with civil agencies,” it said.

Earlier in the morning, a defence spokesperson said, “There were reports of an explosion inside Air Force Station Jammu. There is no injury to any personnel or any damage to any equipment. Investigation is on and further details are awaited”.

Jammu airport is a civil airport with the runway and the ATC (air traffic control) under the IAF.

Jammu Airport director Pravat Ranjan Beuria said that there was no disruption in flight operations due to the explosions. “Flights to and from Jammu airport are operating as per schedule,” he said.

FIR registered under UAPA in Jammu IAF station blast case; NIA likely to take over probe

Jammu: An FIR was registered Sunday under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act after two explosives-laden drones crashed into the IAF station at Jammu airport, officials said, while indicating the case may be taken over by the terror probe agency NIA.

The drones crashed into the IAF station at Jammu airport in the early hours of Sunday, perhaps the first time that suspected militants have used unmanned aerial vehicles in an attack, the officials said.

An FIR was registered under relevant sections of the Explosive Substances Act, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act and the Indian Penal Code (IPC) at Satwari police station on the application of a junior warrant officer of the IAF, the officials said.

“The NIA is likely to take over the case. They are already supervising the investigation at the scene of the blast after joining the probe,” one of the officials said.

He said an FIR was registered under UAPA sections 13/16/18/23 of the (unlawful activities/terrorist act/conspiracy/enhanced penalties), and IPC section 120-B (criminal conspiracy).

Sections 3 and 4 of the Explosive Substances Act (causing explosion likely to endanger life or property/attempt to cause explosion, or for making or keeping explosive with intent to endanger life or property) have also been included.

Probe teams from the IAF and Special Forces have also visited the scene along with forensic experts to investigate the nature of the blast and collect evidence, they said.

Meanwhile, a battery of mediapersons camped outside the main gate of the IAF station hit by the twin blasts. However, no out of ordinary movement was noticed at the gate except visits by senior officers of the Army, police, CRPF and other agencies.

Labourers engaged for routine work inside the station reported on schedule and were allowed in after usual checking of their identity cards and frisking.

Army quick reaction teams (QRTs) were seen making rounds to maintain watch outside the IAF station, while security forces also carried out area domination in the adjoining residential localities, the officials quoted above said.

Security has been beefed up across Jammu region including on highways where special checkpoints were set up to carry out checking of vehicles especially at the entry and exit points of the city.

Small-size, stealth make drones lethal threat for strategic installations: Officials

New Delhi:  The capability of drones to evade radar, wreak devastation at strategic installations and “transport weapons to terrorists” has been a continuous concern for the country’s security establishment, and in a maiden incident, these unmanned vehicles were used to strike an IAF base in Jammu on Sunday, officials said.

The defence and internal security matrix of the country has been talking about threats posed by small and remote-controlled unmanned vehicles for the last two to three years with occasional incidents of “Pakistan-sponsored armed drones being neutralised by the Border Security Force (BSF), the Punjab Police and other agencies along the India-Pakistan border.”

A clutch of ministries and departments like that of home, civil aviation, Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS), the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and the IAF have been working on plans and technologies to check and combat such attacks at sensitive civil airports and other facilities.

The central police think-tank called the Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD) has also held a few multi-stakeholder national conferences on the subject to find out the most effective methods, both technology-wise and monetarily, to jam and neutralise these threats.

“We are still to get the most suitable technology to thwart armed drones along the border. The interceptions made till now has been because of the vigilance of troops on duty,” a senior BSF officer said.

He said multiple incidents of arms and drugs carrying drones and quad-copters being flown from Pakistan into the Indian side in Jammu and Punjab have been noticed in the last few years and all of them have been thwarted.

However, a senior home ministry officer said that there have been incidents when drones were used for surveillance of Indian border assets and positions. “But as soon as they were spotted and reaction mounted, the floaters rushed back to base where either terrorist elements or Pakistan military soldiers could be handling the remote,” the officer said.

Both the International Border and the Line of Control (LoC) region along Pakistan have had their share of such incidents which have been flagged by the Army.

Deep inside the country, the tarmac and the city-side of civil airports are vulnerable when it comes to dropping bombs or surveillance by drones.

A proper standard operating procedure (SOP) is in the making with the IAF supposed to be the first responder and the snipers of the CISF and the commando force, National Security Guard (NSG), desired to chip in case of an emergent threat.

“We need a comprehensive plan and plan of action to check the menace of drones. Every agency, be it at the borders or in cities or airports, needs to have specific responsibility along with required technology tools,” a senior officer in the security establishment said.

“The latest Jammu air force station incident has magnified the challenge,” the officer said.

A data estimation study conducted by multiple security agencies in 2019 stated that over six lakh unregulated drones, of various sizes and capacities, are present in the country and any of them can be used for launching a nefarious act by disruptive elements.

The agencies are looking at specific anti-drone techniques like sky fence, drone gun, ATHENA, drone catcher and Skywall 100 to intercept and immobilise suspicious and lethal remote-controlled aerial platforms.

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