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Sunday, Sep 22, 2019

Car explodes on J-K highway, Pulwama-like terror plot feared

No one was hurt in Saturday’s incident which is being investigated by the police and security forces, although the very fact that a car was parked on a crucial highway with explosive material is worrying

india Updated: Mar 30, 2019 23:06 IST
Ravi Khajuria and Mir Ehsan
Ravi Khajuria and Mir Ehsan
Hindustan Times, Jammu/ Srinagar
Security personnel inspect the mangled remains of a car which exploded near a CRPF convoy on the Jammu-Srinagar highway at Banihal, in Ramban district of Jammu and Kashmir, Saturday, March 30, 2019. (PTI Photo)(PTI3_30_2019_000046B)
Security personnel inspect the mangled remains of a car which exploded near a CRPF convoy on the Jammu-Srinagar highway at Banihal, in Ramban district of Jammu and Kashmir, Saturday, March 30, 2019. (PTI Photo)(PTI3_30_2019_000046B)(PTI)
         

A car exploded on the Srinagar-Jammu highway on Saturday morning, damaging a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) convoy in an incident that security agencies are treating as an attempted terror attack due to the remnants found from the vehicle and the similarities with the Pulwama suicide bombing in February.

No one was hurt in Saturday’s incident which is being investigated by the police and security forces, although the very fact that a car was parked on a crucial highway with explosive material is worrying — especially because most highways are now being secured after the Pulwama attack, which left 40 CRPF troopers dead in the deadliest strike on security forces in the Valley.

“Preliminary investigations revealed that there were commercial LPG cylinders in the car but some other items recovered from the spot also suggest that it was a plan, which failed,” Ramban district police chief, Anita Sharma said. “We cannot rule out the possibilities of a foul play since some items found can be utilized for explosives,” she added.

A senior security official, asking not to be named, said the suspect material may be urea, a fertilizer, which can be easy improvised to be used as an explosive in crude bombs. The more dangerous RDX explosive was used in the Pulwama attack.

The driver of the car escaped from the spot at Tethar in Ramban district. The site is close to the Banihal tunnel, which forms a crucial link between Jammu and Srinagar and is guarded by security personnel round-the-clock.

”We are trying to locate the driver and arrest him. We have also got two numbers of the Santro,” said a police official part of the investigation, asking not to be identified. This person added that while investigators were initially of the opinion that it was just a gas cylinder blast, the recovery of urea prompted them to look at other angles.

According to CRPF officials, the convoy included 30 vehicles carrying troopers of the 54 battalion and heading from Srinagar to Jammu.

After the Pulwama attack, security along all national highways in Kashmir and Jammu was increased. When convoys pass, civilian traffic is usually halted.

The Pulwama attack was claimed by the Jaish-e-Mohammed, a terror group headquartered in Pakistan. The attack led to one of the most serious escalation in tensions with Pakistan, culminating in military action that saw India striking a Jaish training camp and Pakistan carrying out an air strike in retaliation.

An Indian air force pilot had been captured in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir before he was released as diplomatic pressure grew to de-escalate tensions.

(With inputs from Sudhi Ranjan Sen in New Delhi)

First Published: Mar 30, 2019 12:43 IST