Arrival of “sticky bombs” in Kashmir sounds alarm bells | India News
‘Sticky bombs’ are smuggled from Pakistan via drones and tunnels, Indian security agencies believe (File photo)
SRINAGAR: Security forces fighting a decades-long insurgency in Kashmir are alarmed by the recent arrival in the region of small magnetic bombs that have wreaked havoc in Afghanistan.
During raids in recent months in Jammu and Kashmir, “sticky bombs” have been seized, which can be placed in vehicles and detonated remotely, three senior security officials told Reuters.
“These are small improvised explosive devices and quite powerful,” said Kashmir Valley Police Chief Vijay Kumar, referring to improvised explosive devices. “It will certainly have an impact on the current security scenario, as the volume and frequency of vehicle movements of the police and security forces are high in the Kashmir Valley.”
The arrival of the sticky bombs in Kashmir, including 15 seized in a February raid, raises concerns that a puzzling tactic attributed to Taliban insurgents in nearby Afghanistan could spill over into the conflict between India and Pakistan.
In recent months, Afghanistan has witnessed a series of sticky bomb attacks against security forces, judges, government officials, civil society activists and journalists. The attacks, some as victims sitting in traffic, have sowed fear, while avoiding a considerable number of civilian casualties.
None of the devices seized in Kashmir were produced there, a senior security official said, suggesting they were being smuggled from Pakistan. “They have all come through tunnels and drone drops,” he said, asking not to be identified.
Kashmir has long been a hotbed of tension between nuclear-armed neighbors India and Pakistan.
India accuses Pakistan of backing the insurgency in Kashmir, which has claimed tens of thousands of lives since the 1990s. Pakistan denies the accusation and says it only provides moral and diplomatic support to the Kashmiri people fighting for self-determination.
Authorities said the bombs are particularly concerning because they can easily be attached to vehicles using magnets, which could allow militants to carry out assassinations or attack military convoys that regularly pass through the valley.
In February 2019, a suicide bomber drove an explosives-laden car into a convoy in Kashmir’s Pulwama, killing 40 soldiers, the deadliest attack on Indian forces in the region, bringing India and Pakistan to the brink of another war.
Police Chief Kumar said security forces were changing protocols to deal with the new threat. The measures included increasing the distance between private and military traffic, installing more cameras on vehicles, and using drones to monitor convoys.
One difference between militants in Kashmir and Afghanistan is that the Taliban have a tremendous ability to move in urban and rural areas, which, coupled with the easier availability of explosives, make bombs a potent threat.
The Taliban, who initially said they were behind some of the attacks, have since denied any involvement in the attacks.
“The Taliban have targets, they can hit and kill them with impunity. The whole structure of the attack, and its endless repetition, is what makes the bomb effective,” said Avinash Paliwal, senior lecturer in international relations at SOAS University in London. .
“In Kashmir, the space for such ability to maneuver with ease is limited.”