New York Times reports Pulwama explosives obtained locally, says Indian commander

WASHINGTON: “It is not possible to bring such massive amounts of explosives by infiltrating the border,” says an Indian military commander, Lt Gen D.S. Hooda. India blames Pakistan for Thursday’s suicide bombing in Pulwama that killed over 40 soldiers in India-held Kashmir. Pakistan has strongly rejected the Indian claim, urging New Delhi to avoid such “sad and baseless knee-jerk reactions”. The Indian media reported that the suicide car-bomber Aadil Ahmad Dar used more than 750 pounds of explosives against the military convoy he targeted. Gen Hooda, who commanded the Indian army’s Northern Command during a similar crisis in September 2016, told The New York Times on Saturday that “the material may have been taken from stashes of explosives” being used to broaden the Jammu highway where the attack occurred. The newspaper also noted that India’s options for putting diplomatic pressure on Pakistan were limited, so were its options for a military response. “India’s options for a military response are also limited, analysts say, with the disputed border blanketed in thick snow and Pakistani troops on high alert,” the report added. Diplomatic observers in Washington pointed out that the United States will also not like to isolate Pakistan, particularly now when it’s playing a key role in US-Taliban talks. A semi-official US media outlet, Voice of America, reported that American and Taliban officials are set to meet for a new round of direct peace negotiations aimed at paving the way for a political settlement to the war in Afghanistan. The NYT report also hinted that the bomber might have been motivated by domestic reasons to carry out the attack. “The nature of Thursday’s bombing suggests the insurgency is adapting and becoming more homegrown, leaving observers to question how deep the links to Pakistan really run,” the newspaper observed. It pointed out that Dar was from a village about six miles from where the Indian convoy was struck … and the explosives he packed into his car appear to have been locally procured. The report noted that “an insurgency that was once stoked by Pakistan may have taken on a life of its own, as Kashmiris become more disenfranchised and angry at the central government in Delhi and its use of force”.

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