Pathankot attack: One more terrorist killed, operations continue until base safe

The attack at the airbase, located close to the Pakistan border, began early Saturday. Seven security forces personnel have been killed while 20 are injured.

Written by KAMALDEEP SINGH BRAR , Navjeevan Gopal , Sagnik Chowdhury | Pathankot / New Delhi | Updated: January 5, 2016 7:12 am
pathankot attack, fresh firing pathankot, pathankot fresh attack, two terrorists pathankot attack, Pathankot terror attack, lt colonel killed, nsg commando killed, fresh firing nsg, fresh firing air force base, Pathankot air base, Pathankot news, punjab, pathankot air force base attack, punjab attack, pathankot attack, pathankot terror attack, punjab air force attack, punjab sp car missing, india news, breaking news, latest news Pathankot attack: The attack at the airbase, located close to the Pakistan border, began early Saturday. Seven security forces personnel have been killed while 20 are injured.

After a third day of gunbattle at Pathankot Air Force Station, one more terrorist was declared killed, taking the total number to five, but indicating the continuing uncertainty about the number of infiltrators, officials said operations would continue until the base could be declared fully safe.

The attack at the airbase, located close to the Pakistan border, began early Saturday. Seven security forces personnel have been killed while 20 are injured.

A charred body was also found at the airbase and was being examined by forensic experts to ascertain if it was that of a sixth infiltrator.

“Combing and search operations continue. Security forces comprising NSG, the Army…are employed in the operation. Air Force has deployed all its assets… Police and intelligence are also working in sync to make this operation successful,” said National Security Guard Inspector General (Operations) Dushyant Singh on Monday evening.

“Given the magnitude of the airbase, operations will be conducted till we are able to fully render safe the base. However, I would like to inform that all the assets at the base, including personnel, families, have been secured and are safe,” he said.

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He did not say how many more infiltrators were suspected to be still present within the base.

According to official sources, some terrorists may have slipped into the air base even before an alert was sounded in Pathankot. “There is a high possibility that some terrorists may have entered the Pathankot air base even before an alert was sounded on January 1. Rajesh Verma (the jeweller who was abducted by terrorists on January 1) has revealed to the state police that he overheard a conversation between the terrorists and their handlers. From the conversation, he could make out that the terrorists were being pulled up for not having entered the air base yet, as two other terrorists had already done so,” said a source.

“The terrorists were heavily armed. They were using AK-47s that had a slightly different contraption attached, not like under barrel grenade launchers, but something akin to mortar launchers,” the source added. It is also being probed whether local smuggling networks were used to stash arms and ammunition somewhere near Pathankot, even before the terrorists had infiltrated.

Meanwhile, the United Jihad Council (UJC) Monday claimed responsibility for the attack. “The attack… was carried out by the national highway squad,” a Srinagar-based news agency, Current News Service (CNS), quoted UJC spokesman Syed Sadaqat Hussain as saying.

According to CNS, Hussain claimed responsibility in a statement emailed from Muzaffarabad. “Our message is that no Indian installation is out of reach of the mujahideen,” he is reported to have said. The UJC, an amalgam of militant outfits operating in Jammu and Kashmir, is headed by Hizbul Mujahideen chief Syed Salahuddin.

According to official accounts, on the intervening night of December 31 and January 1, a group of four persons dressed in army uniforms reportedly waylaid the car of Gurdaspur SP Salwinder Singh, who was travelling with his friend Rajesh Verma and his cook Gopal Das. The SP later reported that they were tied up, and after two hours of travel, he and Gopal Das were dumped. Verma, whose throat was slit but survived, was later left in a village called Beli.

Confirming that it was known on January 1 that the Pathankot air base could be targeted, officials said the NSG was aware that it may be the attack site when they were sent to Pathankot. Securing the “inner periphery” at the air base was top priority at the time, they said.

Security officials also revealed that there were intelligence inputs in the run-up to the Pathankot attack that the Jaish-e-Mohammed was planning “something spectacular”. Recent intelligence had revealed that Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) had once again warmed up to JeM, they added.

In November last year, three heavily-armed JeM militants were killed in an attack on an army camp near the Line of Control at Tangdhar in northern Kashmir. A civilian was also killed in the encounter, and a jawan had sustained injuries.

An intelligence input the same month had warned that the ISI had brought together a group of around 30 terrorists from JeM, Lashkar-e-Toiba and Hizbul Mujahideen that was planning to cross into Indian territory from a camp in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) to carry out attacks. A meeting of terrorists from all three outfits was facilitated by the ISI at Peshawar, where instructions to cross over into the Kashmir valley and carry out attacks were issued, that input had claimed.

Government sources said details of phone calls intercepted between the terrorists who attacked the Pathankot air base and their Pakistan-based handlers, as well as evidence of the terrorists having come from across the border, are expected to be shared with the Pakistan government whenever the two sides meet next.

The NIA has registered cases under various sections of the IPC, Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and Arms Act against unknown persons, sources said. The three FIRs pertain to kidnapping of SP Salwinder Singh, murder of taxi driver Ikagar Singh and the attack on Pathankot air base by six terrorists.

A team of NIA has been at the spot since Saturday. The NIA will take over the evidence and custody of the bodies of terrorists once the Army and NSG give clearance that the operation is over, sources said.

The mandate of the NIA probe will include figuring out how militants entered India.

Salwinder is likely to be questioned, sources said. The NIA may also question or seek custodial interrogation of sacked IAF personnel Ranjith KK, a Leading Air Craftman (LAC) with the IAF posted in Bhatinda, who was arrested by the Delhi Police for allegedly supplying information to the ISI, sources said.

Meanwhile, Pathankot police started collecting information about residents living in the areas abutting the Air Force Station boundary wall. Homeowners have been told to submit information about tenants as well.

Police are also checking the antecedents of 500 labourers who have access to the air base. Police are also making a list of owners and employees of shops just outside the base.

“After making the lists, we will see if there are some suspects who may have helped terrorists,” said DSP city Manoj Thakur.

Unconfirmed inputs that a labourer had seen two suspicious persons with weapons, and of a car being snatched in Manwal village kept police on their toes all day. Border Range Deputy Inspector General Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh said a thorough search was carried out for three hours but nothing was found.

(With Bashaarat Masood in Srinagar)

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  1. S
    Sirius
    Jan 5, 2016 at 4:29 am
    "Clearly .." !? On the contrary, everything seems to to point to Pak Military, its surrogates , and Pak rangers ...
    Reply
    1. T
      Think
      Jan 5, 2016 at 12:46 am
      No use or no point in blaming stan. If terrorists can get into a secure air force base with arms that can last days of battle, you do wonder how they could get it inside.
      Reply
      1. A
        abi
        Jan 5, 2016 at 4:48 am
        One thing is clear ...army says we had inputs about possible attack and protecting inner periphery was top priority at that point seems white lie coz was there so scarcity of army men to protect outer area or they should have called more men from outside if they were strong in their point. So they are all saying this to keep their honour. Instead they should update their IT and manpower facilities.
        Reply
        1. B
          Bilal Ahmad
          Jan 5, 2016 at 7:26 am
          Come on dear! India have the worlds second largest army, please dont put the burden of your failure on others... Even if these terrorists managed to break in from stan, atill its your failure... I wish a real Phantom for Indian Army, who van help thwm in concluding of this operation
          Reply
          1. B
            Bilal Ahmad
            Jan 5, 2016 at 7:21 am
            Please call Phantom... By the way if its really stan than its still a shame for India. Stop being in the state of denial and show courage to accept your failure.
            Reply
            1. K
              Karunakaran
              Jan 5, 2016 at 2:51 am
              Disgrace? Yes, on many fronts. We keep seeing that the world's fouth biggest military can be outsmarted by a handful of non-soldiers (with perhaps three months' training). We keep seeing that our great PM keeps running after the goras for selfies. We keep seeing that our great PM has his black photos photoshopped to pink before being provided to the newspapers. The man at the top table is a complete disgrace.
              Reply
              1. k
                k.j.jose
                Jan 5, 2016 at 3:16 am
                Giving promises during election can be done by any party. Mr. Modi had blamed Sri. Manmohan Sigh for all the terror attacks in India during the elections. Eg. Cutting the head of a soldier in Jemmu Kashmir.B.J.P had all the medicine for the future terror attacks. It seems that the 56 inch chest is not working. Government is not able to handle the situation even after four days. What will happen to India if there is a direct war between India and Pak. People of India are observing the pathetic performance of the present Government?Man Mohan might have been Maun unlike Modi who was vocal during election, but he was effective in many count.
                Reply
                1. M
                  Me Marathi
                  Jan 5, 2016 at 3:58 am
                  You are disgrace to humanity. Your mindset is the biggest threat to India. It is just handful of bigots like you who are real threat.
                  Reply
                  1. H
                    Hari
                    Jan 5, 2016 at 4:52 am
                    There is no doubt that security of this country is very shabby and weak. There is complete failure of intelligence and policing in this region which needs to be strengthened on top priority basis. Indian govt must force stan to take stern action against attackers inside PAK who engineered this attack. PAK is deeply involved in such attacks. This fact must be realized by Indian politicians who are involved in dog fights with each other on eve of such sensitive terrorist attack. This shows that Congress leaders are biggest enemy of this country who tried their level best to weaken this country by different means by promoting rampant corruption, communal disturbance, by stopping all defense purchases for grafts etc. This is happening due to anti-national leaders are leading this party and most of leaders are part time who are practicizing in Courts when they are out of power. These politicians are joining parties for money when party is in power. But BJP govt is also useless and lame duck which is not acting firmly against corrupt Congress and other leaders who looted this country in reckless manner. This is viewed seriously by public of country resulted in BJP is losing its ideny causing humiliating defeats in Delhi, Bihar and other civic elections held shortly. So BJP must work sincerely and honestly for benefit of people and nation otherwise that day is not far when people will throw BJP like Congress in future. There is no doubt that security of this country is very shabby and weak. There is complete failure of intelligence and policing in this region which needs to be strengthened on top priority basis. Indian govt must force stan to take stern action against attackers inside PAK who engineered this attack. PAK is deeply involved in such attacks. This fact must be realized by Indian politicians who are involved in dog fights with each other on eve of such sensitive terrorist attack. This shows that Congress leaders are biggest enemy of this country who tried their level best to weaken this country by different means by promoting rampant corruption, communal disturbance, by stopping all defense purchases for grafts etc. This is happening due to anti-national leaders are leading this party and most of leaders are part time who are practicizing in Courts when they are out of power. These politicians are joining parties for money when party is in power. But BJP govt is also useless and lame duck which is not acting firmly against corrupt Congress and other leaders who looted this country in reckless manner. This is viewed seriously by public of country resulted in BJP is losing its ideny causing humiliating defeats in Delhi, Bihar and other civic elections held shortly. So BJP must work sincerely and honestly for benefit of people and nation otherwise that day is not far when people will throw BJP like Congress in future.
                    Reply
                    1. M
                      Modi
                      Jan 4, 2016 at 11:18 pm
                      What is all this for .. Kashmir? Ok Give Kashmir to stan but that must be followed 100% and that is every single muslim leaves INDIA forever. If religion is what defines Kashmir part of stan then let us throw all follower of this religion out of INDIA. Problem solved.... you live in your country and we live in our country happily there after...
                      Reply
                      1. S
                        Sajid Rafique
                        Jan 5, 2016 at 3:48 am
                        I feel sorry for the lives lost and request my indian brothers to not give up hope of peace between Pak and india..There are elements who want to derail the peace process .
                        Reply
                        1. S
                          Sajid Rafique
                          Jan 5, 2016 at 3:51 am
                          Indians should continue dialogue with stan because clearly the govt of Sharif is not doing these attacks...Peace is the best way of life.
                          Reply
                          1. S
                            Sathish
                            Jan 5, 2016 at 3:35 am
                            Biggest disgrace is in siding with the devils running this deception of democracy.
                            Reply
                            1. S
                              Sathish
                              Jan 5, 2016 at 3:19 am
                              In this deception of democracy, while muslims are used for distraction, vatican terrorists are expanding their base in India. Aam s are Govern mente'd (mind conditioned) to even celebrate vatican devil's festivals. False flag attack is a common strategy used by vatican asuras.
                              Reply
                              1. S
                                Sunil
                                Jan 5, 2016 at 12:08 am
                                Even Mahatma hi would have never agreed to it - It is Ahimsa of the coward.
                                Reply
                                1. S
                                  Sunil
                                  Jan 5, 2016 at 12:04 am
                                  This is plain disgrace. Disgrace for the emerging superpower, disgrace for the fourth largest army in the world. The dastard terrorists can survive so long, and not crushed with lightening speed. Why? Why there is intelligence failure of monumental proportion? Is it because of corruption of our minds and soul? Why Punjab police has shown shameful lethargy? The terrorist have allegedly entered through drug route. Why those routes are not sealed? Whose interests are being served? Why the forces are not having ultra modern equipment to liquidate these animals? Why even the chemical agents like nerve gas are not considered to kill those rats? Whoever is responsible for this mess must be punished. In a way we should be grateful to those madmen because they have exposed the lacunae in our rusted system. All those lacunae must be removed by those some good men at the top. The terrorists have shamed us and one of the holiest place of our motherland is violated. This must never ever happen again.
                                  Reply
                                  1. S
                                    shapoor bomanjee
                                    Jan 5, 2016 at 1:02 am
                                    No doubt, security people were very lax in their duty, that too at a very important air base, very near indo-pak border. Always caught napping. Inspite of advance information, this had happened. The guilty security persoannel must be severely dealt with, so that such drastic acts can be avoided.
                                    Reply
                                    1. V
                                      Vedic_Citizen
                                      Jan 5, 2016 at 1:26 am
                                      Dead bodies of Pak terrorists must be thrown into Pak across borders must not be buried in this land.
                                      Reply
                                      1. S
                                        s s nair
                                        Jan 5, 2016 at 12:27 am
                                        The BJP better than planning how they can defend their leader for his unfortunate visit to stan should think about plan how we can avoid such terrorism in future.
                                        Reply
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