Blast near Israeli Embassy: Delhi Police recovers envelope from explosion site, CISF on high-alert

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New Delhi | January 30, 2021 9:53 AM

Israel Embassy Explosion: Officials said they are scanning footage of CCTV cameras installed nearby to ascertain the sequence of events.

Blast outside Israel Embassy in New DelhiIsrael Embassy Explosion in Delhi: The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) units that guard various government buildings in the national capital have been asked to maintain a "high level of alert". (PTI)

Israel Embassy Blast in Delhi: A low-intensity improvised explosive device(IED) went off near the Israeli Embassy in the heart of Delhi on Friday evening but no one was injured, police said. Some cars were damaged in the blast that occurred about 150 metres away from the Embassy in Dr APJ Abdul Kalam road in the very high-security Lutyens’ bungalow zone. The Israeli foreign ministry said all its diplomats and embassy staff in Delhi are “safe and sound”.

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar spoke to his Israeli counterpart Gabi Ashkenazi and said India has taken the incident “very seriously” and that “no effort will be spared to find the culprits.”

Ashkenazi was also assured of “fullest protection” to the Jewish nation’s diplomats and its missions in the country.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed “full confidence” in the Indian authorities in ensuring the safety of Israelis and Jews in India following the blast, officials said in Jerusalem.

Delhi Police Additional PRO Anil Mittal said initial impressions suggest that it could be a mischievous attempt to create some sensation but did not elaborate.

The Police have recovered an envelope from the blast site that was addressed to officials of the Israeli Embassy, sources said. The envelope contained a note, but the sources did not reveal any details.

The blast took place around the same time when President Ram Nath Kovind, Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu and Prime Minister Narendra Modi were present a few kilometres away at the traditional Beating Retreat ceremony that marks the culmination of the annual Republic Day celebrations.

“A very low intensity improvised device went off 5.05 pm. No injury to any person was reported, nor was there any damage to property except the glass panes of three vehicles parked nearby,” PRO Mittal said in a statement.

India’s National Security adviser (NSA) Ajit Doval spoke to his Israeli counterpart Meir Ben-Shabbat and updated him on the situation and ongoing investigation into the incident, officials said in Jerusalem.

The update was conveyed to Prime Minister Netanyahu, they said.

Netanyahu asked to convey to his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi that Israel has “full confidence that the Indian authorities will do a thorough investigation of the incident and ensure the safety of Israelis and Jews who are there”, the officials said.

After his telephonic conversation with his Indian counterpart, Ashkenazi tweeted to say that 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 said.

Preliminary investigations revealed that the IED was planted in a flower pot on the median near Jindal House on APJ Abdul Kalam road outside the Israeli embassy, sources said. Some ball bearings used in making bombs were recovered near the blast site, they said.

A resident of the area, who could not be immediately identified, told Times Now that he heard a “loud blast”. “My building shook. I could feel a tremor. I thought there was some explosion in Jindal House.”

The explosion took place on a day when India and Israel marked the completion of 29th anniversary of establishment of their diplomatic relations.

The Delhi Police registered a case and its Special Cell has started investigations, said Police Commissioner S N Shrivastava, who also visited the site in the evening and took stock of the situation.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah is in touch with the Delhi Police top brass and is constantly monitoring the situation, officials said.

The CISF which guards civil airports, vital nuclear and aerospace installations, Delhi Metro and central government buildings has put on alert all its units across the country after the blast, official sources said.

The paramilitary force has directed its personnel to enhance vigil at the 63 civil airports and the Delhi Metro under its cover, besides vital installations in the nuclear and aerospace domain.

The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) units that guard various government buildings in the national capital have been asked to maintain a “high level of alert”, they said.

In February 2012, an attack had occurred on an Isreali embassy diplomat’s car when a motorcycle-borne person stuck an explosive to the vehicle at a traffic signal. The bomb had exploded seconds later, injuring the diplomat and three others.

After the explosion on Friday, the bomb disposal squad of the Delhi Police carried out searches at the blast site to find out if there were more explosives in the area. Forensic experts also examined the blast site, an official said.

Samples of dust and grass from the nearby area have been taken. It occurred near a tree. Some metal things have also been collected, a source said.

“We have handed over everything to investigating officers. The investigating officer will send it to our laboratory. There was an explosion and what type of explosion it was will be disclosed after the examination. Two teams of 10 experts reached the blast site,” Rajnish, a forensic expert, told reporters.

The fire department received a call about the blast at 5.11 pm. A fire department official told reporters they had received the blast call and no one was injured in the explosion.

There was a heavy deployment of police personnel and the APJ Abdul Kalam road has been cordoned off.

Officials said they are scanning footage of CCTV cameras installed nearby to ascertain the sequence of events.

“An explosion occurred a short while ago, close to the Israeli Embassy in New Delhi. There are no casualties and no harm was done to the building. All Israeli diplomats and embassy staff are safe and sound,” an Israeli foreign ministry release said.

“The event is being investigated by the Indian authorities who are in contact with Israeli officials,” it said, adding that the foreign minister is frequently being updated on the situation and has directed to take all necessary precautions.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Twitter that any attempt to disturb peace should be firmly dealt with.

“Concerned by the news of a blast near Israeli Embassy in Delhi. Agencies are determining the nature and cause of the blast. Thankfully, no loss of life reported yet. Any attempt to disturb the peace of Delhi should be firmly dealt with,” he tweeted.

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