At least two soldiers wounded in twin blasts at Indian Air Force building in Jammu region of India-administered Kashmir, officials say, adding, if confirmed, use of drones could present a major challenge for troops there.
New Delhi is investigating the suspected use of drones by rebels after two explosions rocked an Indian air base in India-administered Kashmir, senior security officials have said.
Dilbagh Singh, the region's police director-general, told the private news channel New Delhi Television on Sunday that "drones with payload were used in both the blasts."
Singh called the attack an act of "terrorism."
Two soldiers were lightly wounded in the explosions, according to a military officer who spoke on condition of anonymity in keeping with military regulations.
Indian Air Force tweeted that the attack caused minor damage to a building on the base, located in the southern city of Jammu in the region, while the second blast hit an open area. It said no military equipment was damaged.
Rebels have primarily used classic guerrilla tactics such as ambushes, hit-and-run attacks, remote-controlled explosions and car bombings.
Officials said the blasts have caused concern in security circles as they could mark the first time that drones have been used in an attack on the Indian facilities in the disputed Himalayan region.
New Delhi has struggled for decades to dampen pro-freedom sentiments in the region, which has a Muslim majority population.
Most of the Kashmiris favour complete independence or a merger with Pakistan.
India often blames neighbouring Pakistan for supporting rebels but Islamabad denies involvement, saying it only provides moral, political and diplomatic support to Kashmiris' struggle for the right to self determination. Most Kashmiris call it a legitimate freedom struggle. The three-decade conflict has killed at least 70,000 people, mostly civilians. Thousands have disappeared in the Indian custody, according to rights groups.
Last week, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi told the region's pro-India politicians that elections would be held there once constituencies in the region have been reconfigured, following the abrogation of the region's semi-autonomy and subsequent annexation two years ago.
'Huge and serious challenge'
Lieutenant General [retired] DS Hooda, who was head of the Indian military's Northern Command from 2014 to 2016 which covers Kashmir, said Sunday's potential drone strike poses a "huge and serious challenge" for the security apparatus.
He said commercial drones are easily available on the market and don't need advanced technology to be used in attacks.
"Drones have a small visual signature and traditional radars hardly pick them up," Hooda said.
"It will require a whole range of new modifications for the military to intercept and defuse these kinds of attacks."
Tensions over Kashmir
Muslim-majority Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan, which both claim in its entirety.
Rebels have been fighting against Indian rule since 1989. Most Muslim Kashmiris support the rebel goal that the territory be united either under Pakistani rule or as an independent country.
India has stationed more than 500,000 soldiers in the region, the highest concentration of troops anywhere in the world.
Both countries have accused each other in the past of using surveillance drones in the mountain region. Both nations deny the accusations.
Indian authorities in recent years have raised the possibility of drone attacks by rebels in the region, especially after repeatedly accusing Pakistan of using China-made drones along the frontier to drop weapons packages for rebel groups since last year.