Rising IED attacks in J&K keeping security forces on their toes

An exponential rise in terrorist attacks involving improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and their seizure in the Kashmir Valley in 2021 has become a big challenge for the security forces on the ground.

According to official data released recently, 12 IED explosions took place in 2021 in J&K compared to only one in the previous year. The frequent use of this explosive devise suggests that the terrorists have started adopting the Maoist strategy of planting IEDs to target troopers, especially after the 2019 Pulwama attack in which 40 CRPF jawans were martyred.

There was only one incident of terror attack on security forces using IED in 2020, which increased to 12 last year, meaning one attack each month on an average. The security forces also defused 51 IEDs last year as compared to 38 in 2020.

The data also revealed that recovery of the IEDs was high last year in comparison to 2020. In 2021, a total of 16 IEDs were recovered, as compared to only five in 2020.

In December last year, the security forces neutralised a terrorist who was an IED expert and recovered 5 kg of explosives from his possession.

According to a senior officer in the security forces operating in Jammu and Kashmir, because they are handy and have huge potential to kill, ultras are using IEDs to target security personnel.

The militants now consider IEDs as a more secure method than gunfights or suicide attacks, he added.

IEDs can be made in many forms, ranging from a small pipe bomb to a sophisticated device capable of causing massive damage and loss of life which can be easily carried or delivered in a vehicle, placed or thrown by a person or delivered in packets or concealed on the roadside.

The Maoists have mostly used this device to target the security forces in the Red Corridor.

The supply of IEDs has increased in the Valley from the terror outfits across the border using drones and over-ground workers (OGWs).

Recently, many drones were shot down by the security forces carrying IEDs in the border areas in Jammu, paramilitary officials said.

“The way, the terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir have started using these improvised explosives to target security forces is very similar to the tactics used by the Maoists in the Left Wing Extremism (LWE) areas,” Vijay Shankar Singh, a retired IPS officer, said.

“There is only one difference between Maoists in LWE areas and terrorists active in J&K, which is Maoists plant IEDs on the roadside or burry them under the paths taken by the security forces for area domination, while in Kashmir, the terrorists plant IEDs near police pickets or hurl them on security forces,” Singh said.

IEDs are made using multiple electrical components such as switch, initiator or a power source fitted together in a container. To make it more lethal, enhancements such as shrapnel, metal pieces, metal balls and nails are attached to the container. The device can be initiated by a variety of methods depending on the intended target, through direct explosion with wire or by timer device.

“While we are aware of the increased use of IEDs in the Kashmir Valley, we gained special knowledge to detect and defuse them during our stint in the Red Corridor. Detecting them in time remains the biggest challenge for the forces,” a senior officer of the paramilitary force deployed on the ground said.

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