Pulwama terror attack probe to focus on vehicle, terrorists
Investigators will on Sunday approach automobile manufacturer Maruti Suzuki in Gurgaon for help in determining the model of the vehicle that rammed into a security convoy and killed 40 men in Kashmir, officials involved in the probe said.Updated: Feb 17, 2019 08:45 IST
Investigators will on Sunday approach automobile manufacturer Maruti Suzuki in Gurgaon for help in determining the model of the vehicle that rammed into a security convoy and killed 40 men in Kashmir, officials involved in the probe said. The vehicle could provide crucial clues that can lead to other insurgents, one of these officials added. Remains of the vehicle are too damaged to identify the model or year of manufacture by agencies alone.
“These are the first bits of information that could then be used to determine details that can trace the owner or people who last had the car,” the official added. The probe is being led by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which reached Kashmir a day after the attack.
At least eight suspected overground workers of the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), the Pakistan-based terror organisation that claimed responsibility for the attack, were detained by security forces between Friday and Saturday. “We have detained suspects,” a senior official in the security establishment in Jammu and Kashmir said, asking not to be named. The official confirmed that Adil Ahmad Dar, the man JeM identified as the driver and detonator of the car bomb, was on the radar of security forces. “There was, however, no indication that there would be a suicide attack,” the officer admitted.
According to preliminary investigations, there were two groups of Jaish militants active in the area, including its founder Masood Azhar’s nephew Mohammed Umair, who is believed to be based in Pulwama town. Another group of 2-3 Lashkar operatives are based in villages close to the site of the attack in Lethpora, which falls under the Pulwama district.
According to state police, Jaish has around 56 militants in the Valley and a majority of those are operating in four districts of south Kashmir.
Dar, 22, is believed to have been part of one of the two modules operating in south Kashmir’s Pulwama, Awantipore and Tral belts, an official said, asking not to be named. Currently, Jaish has more than three modules active in south Kashmir besides several sleeper cells in north Kashmir.
“Jaish-e Mohammad is very strong in south Kashmir and almost all its cadres are in south Kashmir. It was Noor Mohammad Tantray, a militant commander from Tral, who had activated Jaish in south Kashmir. It was he who got local recruitment in the cadres of Jaish,” said the officer. “Jaish has both local as well as foreign cadre, he added.
First Published: Feb 17, 2019 07:38 IST