Forget high-grade explosives or fancy detonators, take a trip to the neighbourhood hardware store or pharmacy and you’ll find all the ingredients for making a soft bomb displayed on the shelves. This advice is provided in a 39-page memo circulated by the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba three years ago. And it seems militants are using the advice from a memo recovered from a top Lashkar militant in Srinagar. It read like an ‘Idiot’s Guide to Bomb-making’.
After Thursday’s blasts in Bangalore, it was clear militants have now shifted their focus to easily available material as security agencies have been blocking the acquisition or supply of high-grade explosives such as RDX or C4.
In almost all the blasts set off recently, militants have relied solely on simple bombs — crafted from ingredients as innocuous as nail polish removers and fertilizers. Counter-terrorism officials said militants are using techniques popular even with small-time criminals. “They have added a little sophistication, like timers and cell phones as detonating mechanisms,” an official said.
In UP, terror groups used ‘99’ — codename for a mixture of explosives and chemicals — available for just Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,200 a kg in Unnao. It was first used on August 14, 2000 at Arya Nagar and then in the blasts in Faizabad, Lucknow, Malegaon, Mecca Masjid, Varanasi, Gorakhpur, Ajmer and Jaipur. In UP, militants also used mercury, available at jewellery shops, and sugar. The mixture reacts violently when used with sulphuric acid. It can be packed in tiffin carriers and backpacks, and reinforced with shrapnel.
Sometimes, gelatin sticks and dynamites are used. These are easily available in mining areas. In south India, they are easily available from Naxal sources. Another ingredient is ammonium nitrate, a fertiliser. The nitrogen acts as an oxidising agent and if combined with diesel, kerosene and coal dust, can become a deadly explosive.