A Maruti 800 car is suspected to have been used in Monday’s terror attack on an Army patrol vehicle on the Arihal-Pulwama road in South Kashmir, initial probe suggests.
An improvised explosive device (IED) packed in a car parked by the road was detonated when a mobile vehicle patrol of the 44 Rashtriya Rifles passed by. Two Army personnel were killed and six others injured in the attack. The Army said it was “a failed attempt”.
A team of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) visited the scene of the explosion on Tuesday and picked up samples for forensic examination.
A senior government official said they were not certain about the explosives used in the attack, the third of its kind in the past four months.
The NIA is also investigating the February 14 Pulwama terror attack, in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed after a car bomber — Adil Ahmed Dar, a Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) terrorist — rammed into a bus on the Jammu-Srinagar highway near Pulwama.
The second such case being investigated by the NIA was reported on March 30, when “some terrorists exploded a car laden with explosives near Banihal (in Ramban district) with intention to kill the CRPF jawans.” Six alleged Hizbul Mujahideen terrorists, including a Ph.D. scholar, were arrested for the “failed attack”.
The NIA’s investigation into the February 14 incident is stuck, as the agency is yet to trace the source of explosives used. A senior government official told The Hindu that the NIA had not received the forensic report that would establish where the explosives came from.
The lone link, Sajjad Bhat, who would have provided details about the Pulwama conspiracy, was killed in an encounter with security forces on Tuesday.
The Maruti Eeco car used in the February incident had changed hands seven times and the last person to own it was Bhat, a resident of Bijbehara in Anantnag.
The NIA said Bhat acquired the vehicle on February 4, 10 days before the attack. A student of Siraj-ul-Uloom in Shopian, Bhat later joined the JeM.
As per the initial post-blast analysis conducted by the National Security Guard (NSG), hours after the February attack, the suicide bomber’s vehicle was packed with RDX, a high grade military explosive mostly found in Army stores.
Security forces deployed in the Kashmir Valley have been alerted to car-borne IEDs and extra measures were being taken to sanitise routes for the Amarnath Yatra that commences on July 1. More than two lakh pilgrims are expected to visit the shrine.
Around 30,000 security forces have been deployed for the Yatra’s security.