Indian and Israeli security agencies are probing the incident of a low-intensity explosion outside the Israeli embassy in New Delhi on Friday evening, terming it as a terror attack. An alert has been issued at all airports, important installations, and government buildings in the Indian capital Delhi after the blast was reported.
The police suspect the use of an improvised explosive device (IED) in the explosion that damaged several cars parked outside the embassy.
The site of the blast on Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam Road is close to the residence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The authorities have confirmed it to be a low-power explosive device, noting that no one was injured by the explosion.
The incident is being considered as a major security lapse in an area that remains heavily guarded, and in the vicinity of many security-sensitive locations. The site is also just two kilometers away from the Vijay Chowk, where the Beating Retreat Ceremony was taking place on Friday evening. The ceremony was attended by President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, among others.
Video of the explosion site recorded by a staff member of Israel Embassy. pic.twitter.com/mitTsjKE6N
— Saurabh Trivedi (@saurabh3vedi) January 29, 2021
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the Delhi Police’s Special Cell had reached the spot for investigation following reports of an explosion. Calling it a “low-intensity” blast, the Delhi Police said the “initial impressions suggest this was a mischievous attempt to create a sensation”.
Interestingly, Friday marked the 29th anniversary of the formalization of India-Israel bilateral ties.
An Israeli journalist, quoting top officials, said the Indian and Israeli security services were treating the explosion as an attempted terrorist attack and checking if the embassy was the target.
India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar said he was in touch with the Israeli government and had assured them full protection of the embassy in the capital.
Delhi: Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) team has reached the low-intensity explosion site near Jindal House. pic.twitter.com/nbUKtOV4Uc
— ANI (@ANI) January 29, 2021
Fingers Pointed At Extremist Groups
The Indian capital is currently besieged by farmer protests, which have been going on for more than a month now. The protests were marked by violence and the cane-charge by police even as a section of protesters stormed the historic Red Fort to hoist their flags.
One pro-Khalistani secessionist outfit Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) is reported to have announced a reward of $350,000 to the protestors who hoisted a flag at the Red Fort on Republic Day. SFJ is said to have also called for a siege on the Indian Parliament on February 1, which is Budget Day. Therefore, it is possible that the SJF threat is examined in the context of Friday’s attack outside the Israeli embassy.
Experts Draw Parallels To 2012 Incident
Experts from Israel were also quick to draw parallels to a 2012 incident in which unidentified men tried to assassinate an Israeli diplomat in Delhi while she was on her way to pick up her children from school. Tal Yehoshua Koren, along with her driver and two Indian citizens, were injured in the incident, which Israel blamed on the Iran government.
“This terrorist act is yet another chapter in a well-documented global campaign of the Iranian Government to kill Jews, Israelis and especially Israeli diplomats,” a press release by the Israeli embassy had said two years after the incident.
And two years later, two Iranians were convicted in Thailand and sentenced for life and for 15 years respectively following their attempt to assassinate Israeli diplomats in the Thai capital, an attack that took place a day after the Delhi incident. The Israeli government said the act was a “part of an ongoing Iranian terror campaign that targets Israeli and other objectives.
“This is evidenced, among other things, by the use of identical explosives in the near-simultaneous attacks which were carried out by Iranian terrorists in Bangkok, New Delhi, and also in Tbilisi, Georgia,” it said.
It needs to be mentioned that, currently, the relations between Iran and Israel are at an all-time low with the Israeli army chief recently issuing threats to attack Iran in the near future.