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Today in Terrorism

Islamist terrorist detonates motor scooter bomb in a market near Hindu temple in Jammu (July 20, 1995)

On this day in 1995, a bomb in a motor scooter detonated in a market in northern Indian Kashmir killing 17 people and wounding more than 100.

Some terrorists carry out their activities with what they have, which may be very simple.

JAMMU, INDIA — The conflict in the area of northwest India – or eastern Pakistan, depending on your geographical perspective – known broadly as ‘Kashmir’ has been a flashpoint for a very, very long time. The reasons behind this are complicated, tied somewhat to the partition of the British Raj in 1947 into its modern constituent nations, and have been complicated by competing religious communities (Hindu and Muslim).

Whatever the origin, the animosity between India and Pakistan, both of which are nuclear powers, worries a lot of people. The two sides have shown a lot of belligerence towards each other over many, many years and some fear this could mutate into open war.

Unhelpful policies in the region

As much as I am critical of the Hindu nationalist-cum-extremist government of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and its unhelpful policies in the region, it is Pakistan which deserves the lion’s share of the blame when it comes to actual terrorism in the contested Jammu-Kashmir area. Pakistani terrorist groups regularly infiltrate into Indian-controlled territory and carry out attacks, and Indian counter terrorism and military forces regularly engage these terrorists. There is no end in sight for this cat and mouse game.

On this day in 1995 an Islamist terrorist detonated a bomb hidden in a motor scooter in a market near a Hindu temple in the northern city of Jammu. When the smoke cleared 17 people were dead and more than 100 injured. The terrorist group Harkat-ul-Ansar eventually claimed responsibilty.

Soon after the blast people who had rushed to the site began to throw rocks at police and accuse them of failing to stop terrorist attacks in Jammu.

If you think about it, the MO for this attack was brilliant. Not only are motor scooters ubiquitous in many parts of Asia and hence relatively inexpensive, but their ordinariness would not have drawn attention. This made the success rate of the plot higher.

All this is a reminder that terrorism does not have to be complex. All that is sometimes required is a cause, an actor and a vehicle, the latter being of simple design if necessary. With the inability of India and Pakistan to resolve this issue expect more attacks to take place. What happened 25 years ago could just as easily happen again today.

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. and Programme Director for the Security, Economics and Technology (SET) hub at the University of Ottawa’s Professional Development Institute (PDI). Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of five books on terrorism.

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