Acting on an unprecedented alert from Pakistan’s National Security Advisor Naseer Khan Janjua, India has “neutralised” three of the 10 terrorists suspected to have crossed the border to carry out an attack in Gujarat during Maha Shivratri, said a top Home Ministry official.
Revealing that the target of the three terrorists, who were killed in “a western state” on Friday, was the Somnath Temple in Saurashtra on the west coast, the official said no further information could be shared as operations were underway to track the other seven.
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Sources said the terrorists, who are suspected to have infiltrated through the sea route, could belong to the Lashkar-e-Taiba or the Jaish-e-Mohammed, and could include men from a third country in the neighbourhood.
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As reported first by The Indian Express, Janjua had warned his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval on March 5 of a possible 26/11-style fidayeen assault on religious sites and processions in Gujarat during the Maha Shivratri celebrations. The tip-off led authorities to order a massive mobilisation of state police, rush four National Security Guard teams to Gujarat and sound a multi-city alert.
The Centre also issued an advisory to Gujarat and other states to beef up security at sensitive locations such as places of worship and vital installations.
Fears of an attack in Gujarat had been mounting over the last four months with the discovery of five abandoned fishing boats in Harami Nullah, a channel along the India-Pakistan border. The fifth boat was discovered by the Border Security Force (BSF) just last month. BSF officials, however, believe the boats were most likely used by traffickers.