A small explosion took place outside the Israel embassy in New Delhi on Friday evening, damaging the windscreens of three vehicles parked in the area. No injuries were reported in the incident. Earlier today, an investigation team of Delhi Police’s Special Cell visited the site near the embassy to collect more evidence as part of its ongoing probe.
Here’s what we know about the blast so far:
What, when and where
The low-intensity explosion took place near a pavement close of the Israeli embassy in Lutyens’ Delhi while the Beating Retreat ceremony was underway at Rajpath a few kilometers away. The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) shortly after the explosion issued an alert at all airports, important installations and government buildings. Security was also beefed up outside the office of the Consulate General of Israel in Mumbai.
Nature of the explosive
The blast was caused by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) that was placed inside a flower on the road divider. Test results showed that pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN), a high-grade military explosive, was found in the device. A team from the National Bomb Data Centre (NBDC) of the National Security Guard (NSG) visited the spot for post-blast analysis on Saturday. The findings will be shared with the Delhi Police team investigating the case. Delhi Police also found battery remains from the site of the explosion, indicating that the explosive was a timer device. Initially, it was suspected that a vehicle borne bomber dropped the device near the flower pot, but the presence of the battery has led the police to believe that may be a “well planned, well timed conspiracy".
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Non-functional CCTV cameras
Investigators have not come across “anything concrete" yet as most of the CCTV cameras near the site of the explosion were “non-functional" at the time of incident, official police sources told news agency PTI. Available CCTV footage showed a taxi dropping off two people who were seen walking towards the spot where the blast took place. The driver of the vehicle has been traced and sketches of the two people are being prepared. A probe has been initiated to ascertain their involvement in the blast.
Jaish-ul-Hind, an ISIS group, claimed responsibility for the blast but investigating agencies are not convinced of their involvement. The presence of the grade of explosive used in the blast indicates the involvement of a trained group like Al-Qaeda, officials suspect. Meanwhile, news agency ANI quoted its sources as saying that the cyber cell of Delhi Police Crime Branch is currently investigating the Telegram account from which a screenshot was sent in which Jaish-ul-Hind took responsibility.
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Iranian involvement suspected
Delhi Police’s Special Cell is questioning some people, including a few Iranian nationals, in connection with the blast. On Friday night, a flight to Iran was delayed and all of the passengers were searched and profiled but nothing was found on them. News agency IANS also reported that a letter was recovered from the blast site which mentions that the incident was a “trailer". The agency quoted its sources as saying that the letter also mentions Iran’s General Qasem Soleimani and top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh as “martyrs".
Israel ‘not surprised’
Israel’s ambassador to India Ron Malka said there are enough reasons to believe it was a terrorist attack but they are not surprised at the event as the alert level had been increased for past few weeks following intelligence inputs. He added the investigations will look into all possible angles, including whether there are any links to the 2012 attack on Israeli diplomats here while events around the world are also being examined to find any related operations or activities at any destination.
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On Friday, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar spoke to his Israeli counterpart Gabi Ashkenazi and assured him of “fullest protection" to the nation’s diplomats and its mission. On his part, Ashkenazi said Jaishankar assured him that Indian authorities will continue to act “resolutely" to trace all those involved in the explosion. “The Indian FM assured me that the Indian authorities are committed to the security of all Israeli diplomatic staff and will continue to act resolutely to locate all those involved in the explosion. I thanked him and promised full cooperation and any help required from Israel," he tweeted.
(With agency inputs)
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