NEW DELHI: In 2018, highly trained sniper terrorists changed the rules of the game in Kashmir’s insurgency and sharpshooters from the National Security Guard were despatched to the Valley. Now, after Pulwama, vehicle-borne IEDs (VBIEDs) are the latest worry for security forces with intelligence inputs indicating more such attacks could be planned.
Sources said bomb-makers prefer to install explosives in more than one vehicle as the process is time-consuming and requires expertise. So, such IED experts may rig four-five vehicles before returning to their bases, possibly in Pakistan-controlled territory across the LoC.
To counter the threat, security forces and agencies have initiated a manhunt to track down IED specialists – JeM commander and Afghan war veteran Abdul Rasheed Ghazi tops the list – and locate possible assembly sites. An advisory mentioning ways to deal with such attacks is also going to be issued shortly, a source said.
As per intelligence officials, VBIEDs are the most sought after weaponry by terrorists across war zones because of the scale of damage they can cause. “In such attacks, not only do the vehicle’s parts act as additional shrapnel but the diesel or petrol in the vehicle’s fuel tank makes the bomb’s explosion more powerful by igniting the fuel,” an officer said.
They also pointed out that the use of vehicle-borne IEDs is not rampant because preparing them requires a high level of expertise and resources. “The preparation requires a huge amount of explosives and other instruments which are assembled and wired carefully inside the vehicle so that they can explode at the slightest disturbance,” an intelligence officer told TOI.
Security officials are worried at this shift in modus operandi because VBIED attacks are very difficult to prevent once the vehicle is in motion. They can be detonated even if security personnel manage to stop them at security pickets during checking. Car bombs have, in fact, been a nightmare for forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Bomb disposal squad engineers say that even if spotted, the bomb can be activated in many ways, giving little time to security personnel to stop the explosion. “The bomb, which is usually placed on the rear seat or the boot, can be triggered by opening the driver’s side door or starting or switching off the engine. It can also be detonated by slowing down or stepping on the accelerator,” an official said.
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