- Agencies probing if Banihal car blast was dry run for Pulwama-type attack
- Driver of Hyundai Santro has been picked up by the army
- Blast inside car on Saturday, one CRPF vehicle was slightly damaged
Security agencies are probing if the explosion inside a Hyundai Santro car in Jammu and Kashmir's Banihal on Saturday was a dry run for an attack similar to the terror attack in Pulwama in February. The attack is being seen as a security lapse by officials.
The driver of the car has been identified as Owais Amin, a Hizbul terrorist from south Kashmir's Shopian, Jammu and Kashmir police chief Dilbagh Singh said. He has been picked up by the army. Eyewitnesses said he was seen jumping out of the burning Hyundai Santro on Saturday and running towards a nearby hamlet.
Mr Singh confirmed that a note has been recovered from the car that went up in flames but said that they are investigating whether it was planted after blast. "It's all part of investigations," he told NDTV.
The low-intensity blast inside the private car took place on Jammu-Srinagar highway, near the Jawahar Tunnel, when a convoy of the CRPF was passing. The car, authorities said, overtook a number of vehicles in the convoy.
A team from the National Investigation Agency (NIA) visited the spot on Sunday.
Though all the soldiers in the convoy escaped unhurt in Saturday's blast, one of the CRPF vehicles was slightly damaged, authorities said. Around 10 vehicles were reported to be part of the convoy.
The incident triggered memories of the February 14 suicide attack on a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) convoy in Pulwama in which over 40 solders lost their lives. An explosive-laden vehicle rammed a CPRF bus which was part of the convoy. Terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed had claimed responsibility for the attack.
The car was fitted with two LPG cylinders of different sizes. It also had petrol, jerry can, gelatin sticks, urea and sulphur, the material used for fabricating Improvised Explosive Device (IED) to cause a blast.
It wasn't clear how the car came on to the highway when the CRPF convoy was on the move on Saturday.
Police, who are looking out the terrorist, are also searching the area where the blast took place.
"The incident is being seen as a security lapse. After the last incident, a clear SOP was laid down by that no civilian traffic would be allowed to move when a convoy movement is going on. So how did this (Hyundai) Santro manages to reach convoy. It's a lapse and we are probing it as to who is responsible," a senior Home Ministry official told NDTV.