A post-blast analysis conducted by the National Security Guard at the scene of attack in Pulwama has established that the SUV driven by the suicide bomber was packed with RDX. A senior government official told The Hindu that preliminary investigations suggested that 100-150 kg of RDX was used in the attack on the CRPF convoy on Thursday. The official said samples had been collected for further forensic analysis.
Adil Ahmed Dar, the Jaish-e-Mohammad suicide bomber, rammed a bus in the convoy, killing 40 personnel near Pulwama, 30 km from Srinagar. The CRPF had been moving such convoys, comprising more than 2,500 personnel each, on the Srinagar-Jammu highway. In the past fortnight, two such convoys had moved from Jammu to Srinagar. The latest was on February 4 with a convoy of 91 vehicles and 2,871 personnel.
The militant entered the highway from a slip road (from the Kakapora-Lelhar side), hitting the CRPF bus, the fifth in the convoy, from the left side and then triggered the explosives, preliminary investigations show. The road was open for movement of civilian vehicles, and an hour back, the route has been sanitised for the presence of improvised explosive devices. More than 2,000 men were deployed for road security, an official said.
Most men killed were returning from their annual holiday. A senior government official said the convoys ran smoothly during summers but were irregular during winters and the monsoon because of snowfall and landslips.
Hence, CRPF personnel get stranded in Jammu for days. “As the transit camp has a limited capacity to accommodate only 1,000 personnel at a time, the number of stranded transients exceed 3,000-4,000,” the official said.
The official pointed out there is no facility for transporting them by air so they have to depend on the road to move from Jammu to Srinagar and back.
“As the number of personnel at the transit camps always remains high, buses are used for transportation. These buses have thin metallic plates which offer no protection from bullets or IEDs. Firing being the main threat, improvised plating has been arranged in a few vehicles but there is no safety against IEDs,” an internal note of the Home Ministry said.
The official said troops have been sensitised for stand-off firing and IEDs planted conventionally but were caught off guard by this kind of suicide attack.
“There was an input from J&K police last week about IED blasts, but it was not specific in nature,” he said.