Twin blasts triggered by timer IEDs rock Narwal; 9 injured, many vehicles damaged

A vehicle badly damaged in blast at Narwal on Saturday. —Excelsior/Rakesh
A vehicle badly damaged in blast at Narwal on Saturday. —Excelsior/Rakesh

LG directs for action, will chair high-level meet today

*Mysterious explosions at ex-MLA’s house in Surankote, Bajalta

Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, Jan 21: Two back-to-back blasts, suspected to be triggered by timer-fitted Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) rocked a junkyard at Transport Nagar in Narwal area this morning injuring nine persons and damaging number of parked vehicles while a mysterious blast took place in the house of former Congress MLA Choudhary Mohammad Akram at village Lassana in Surankote tehsil of Poonch district causing damage but there were no casualties.

Forensic experts examine the site of blast at Narwal on Saturday. —Excelsior/Rakesh
Forensic experts examine the site of blast at Narwal on Saturday. —Excelsior/Rakesh

Yet another mysterious incident took place at Bajalta police naka in Nagrota last night in which a police constable was injured. Police have registered an FIR to ascertain whether it was blast or urea reaction as a dumper loaded with urea was also crossing the spot.

Click here to watch video
Soon after the blasts at Narwal, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha called upon security agencies to take urgent steps to identity and initiate action against those responsible for the act. He directed that no efforts should be spared to bring the perpetrators to justice.
The Lieutenant Governor has called a high-level meeting here tomorrow with top police and The Lieutenant Governor will chair a high-level meeting here tomorrow of top police and civil officials of Jammu division to review law and order situation and various other issues. All Deputy Commissioners and SSPs will attend the meeting besides senior officers of civil and police administration, official sources told the Excelsior.
First blast took place under a parked Bolero SUV at junkyard at Transport Nagar at 11 am leading to panic among the locals. As workers and other people rushed for safety and police teams started reaching the site, a similar blast rocked the area exactly 20 minutes after the first one.

Police personnel inspect house of former MLA Mohammad Akram at Surankote.
Police personnel inspect house of former MLA Mohammad Akram at Surankote.

“A total of nine civilians were injured in the blasts while several parked vehicles were damaged,” police said.
Additional DGP Jammu Zone Mukesh Singh, DIG Jammu-Samba-Kathua Range Shakti Pathak and SSP Jammu Chandan Kohli besides police teams, Bomb Disposal Squads and Forensic experts rushed to the spot immediately and evacuated six injured to the Government Medical College (GMC) Jammu. Later, three more injured were taken to the hospital taking total number of injuries in the twin blasts to nine.
While investigations are on and a team of National Investigation Agency (NIA) also examined the site of blasts, sources said two similar IEDs had been planted under the vehicles and it is believed that they were detonated with time devices. However, this is part of investigations as there were certain other mechanisms also with which the IEDs can be detonated without using remotes.
Such was impact of the blasts that some vehicles were extensively damaged. However, there were no fatal casualties as the vehicles whose underneath the IEDs were planted were empty at that time.
Sources said the militants kept 20 minutes time gap between two blasts with a view to cause more casualties as they anticipated that police officials in large numbers would be present at the site. This strategy of the militants was successful at Dhangri in Rajouri district where two children lost their lives in the IED planted by the militants after terror attack the previous night in which five civilians were killed.
Forensic experts and Bomb Disposal Squad reached the spot and sanitised the area. The Forensic experts have collected remnants from the spot. Police sources said both the devices were IEDs but it was yet to be confirmed that they were detonated with time devices.
This was first major terror strike in Jammu this year and second in the region after Dhangri killings. Police was collecting CCTV footage from different places to reach to the militants responsible for planting the IEDs. Apparently, the explosive devices might have been planted during wee hours of the morning.
The terror strikes came ahead of Republic Day as well as during ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi which will resume tomorrow after a day’s break today.
“A blast occurred in an old, parked Bolero (Sports Utility Vehicle) around 11 am resulting in injuries to five people who were standing nearby. They were evacuated to hospital and their condition is stable,” Additional Director General of Police, Mukesh Singh told reporters near the scene of the explosion.
He said the whole area was immediately cleared of the people but in the meantime another blast occurred 50 metres away, causing minor injuries to one more person who was also shifted to hospital.
“Further investigation is on,” the officer said.
“We have received nine patients with one having abdominal injuries and two others fractured legs. The condition of all of them is stable,” a doctor at the hospital said.
Jaswinder Singh, an eyewitness, said the first blast occurred in a vehicle that was at a workshop for repair.
About 15 minutes later, another explosion took place in the area littered with damaged parts and garbage, said Singh, president of the Motor Spare Parts Association.
Raj Kumar said he was working on another vehicle when the blast ripped apart another parked vehicle.
“We initially thought that the petrol tank of some vehicle exploded but the blast was so powerful that it blew up the vehicle,” he said.
Meanwhile, DIG Jammu Shakti Pathak has appealed to the people to stay alert and don’t touch suspicious objects.
Few days back, the militants had lobbed grenade at police naka party at Sidhra. Prior to that, police had seized large quantity of arms and explosives from a truck at Narwal. In December, police gunned down four militants travelling in a truck at Sidhra.
Workers at Transport Nagar said the area where blasts took place today is also being used for other kind of illegal activities as there has been no police patrolling there.
“Had local police been keeping vigil in the area, the militants wouldn’t have succeeded in planting explosive devices,” they said.
An official spokesman said senior police officials briefed Lt Governor about the blast and state of investigation. Condemning the blasts, he called for urgent steps to identity and take action against those responsible.
“Such dastardly acts highlight the desperation and cowardice of those responsible. Take immediate and firm action. No efforts should be spared to bring the perpetrators to justice,” Sinha said.
Sinha also announced assistance of Rs 50,000 to the injured. The Lt Governor said that the administration would ensure the best possible treatment and extend every help required by the families.
The Lieutenant Governor has also called a high-level meeting with divisional administration of Jammu, both civil and police officers, to discuss law and order situation of the region and various other aspects here tomorrow. Besides the divisional level officers, the Deputy Commissioners and SSPs will also attend the meeting.
Meanwhile, an explosion was reported at the house of a former legislator Choudhary Mohammad Akram at village Lassana in Surankote tehsil of Poonch district.
Akram was not present in the house when the blast occurred but some of his family members including son were there.
Akram said the incident occurred around 7.30 pm on Friday and his family had a narrow escape as splinters pierced the ceiling of several rooms of his house in Lassana village.
“I was not home at the time of the incident. Later, I came to know that there was a powerful explosion, followed by some shots that were fired. Police and Army officials visited my house immediately after the incident and they are ascertaining the details,” Akram said.
Akram, who resigned from the Congress in solidarity with former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad last year but later distanced himself from Azad’s Democratic Azad Party, demanded a thorough probe into the incident.
Showkat Hayat son of Akram said that he and his grandmother, who were present in the house felt vibration followed by loud sound of the explosion after which police guards in the house inspected the spot.
SSP Poonch Rohit Baskotra told the Excelsior that the incident is being investigated from all angles.
Meanwhile, civilians injured in Narwal blasts have been identified as Sohail son of Mohammad Iqbal of Ustaad Mohalla, Sushil Kumar son of Ramesh Kumar R/o Prem Nagar, Doda, Vishav Partap son of Babu Singh R/o Kanachak, Vinod Kumar son of Kaku Ram of Chak Baktawar, RS Pura, Arun Kumar of Qasim Nagar, Amit Kumar son of Gulshan Kumar of Bahu Fort and Rajesh Kumar son of Darshan Lal and Bawe Wali Gali.
Meanwhiile, a land mine was found near an Army post and subsequently destroyed in a controlled explosion in border district of Poonch today.
The powerful explosive device, believed to be very old, was noticed by the Army personnel near Makhi post in the Karmara area.
It was safely taken to an isolated place by bomb disposal squad experts and was blasted in a controlled explosion without causing any damage, the officials said.