The warning comes hours after an IED explosion on Monday injured nine soldiers of a 44 Rashtriya Rifles patrol and two civilians along the Arihal-Lassipora road in south Kashmir’s Pulwama. Two of the soldiers succumbed to injuries on Tuesday.
The 14 February suicide attack on a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) convoy that killed 40 personnel was one of the deadliest attacks in Kashmir in the past three decades. However, the increased frequency of IED explosions hints at a more sinister plan by terror organizations to minimize their casualties and cause maximum damage to security forces.
“The trend is parallel to what is observed in the Naxal belts of India. IEDs are the cheapest and most effective way of inflicting damage. The Pulwama (14 February) attack was an extremely sophisticated one. Now, we are seeing increased episodes of remote controlled IEDs, where security forces suffer the maximum damage," said a senior security official seeking anonymity.
Setting up IEDs requires technical expertise, but terror groups operating in the Valley have upped their style of attack, despite the lack of experts among the cadres, said another intelligence official.
“Making IEDs is not difficult anymore with the extent of material that is available on the internet. Second, Kashmir is not airtight, so sneaking in explosives is not impossible for terror groups. Third, all these attacks are being carried out by local youth or home-grown terrorists, who have joined the Jaish after undergoing radicalization," said the second intelligence official mentioned above. “They are now learning to carry out attacks wherein they are not even on the scene and detonate the IED from a remote location," he said.
The trend is dangerously similar to that of the Taliban in Afghanistan, where the insurgents got help from the local population and targeted security forces with frequent IED attacks, said defence experts.
With the Indian Army largely wiping out “IED doctors"(experts in making IEDs) in the 1990s, terror groups operating in the Valley are recruiting people with expertise on making sophisticated IEDs.
“It is a fallacy to think that terrorists are controlled on a minute-to-minute basis by Pakistan. They have a lot of freedom and are now circumventing ambushes by the security forces. They are resorting to the use of IEDs, which we last saw in the 1990s when militancy was at its peak," said Lt. Gen (retd) H.S Panag.
On Tuesday, an encounter broke out in south Kashmir’s Anantnag, in which security forces gunned down overground workers of the Jaish-e-Mohammad, Sajjad Maqbool Bhat and Tauseef, who were instrumental in procuring the vehicle and carrying out the 14 February Pulwama suicide blast. Hours later, on Tuesday, terrorists hurled a grenade at the Pulwama police station, injuring eight civilians.