Pathankot at­tack: 2 ter­ror­ists camped at base be­fore strike

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - Pres­ley Thomas pres­ley.thomas@hin­dus­tan­times.com

MUM­BAI: An in­tel­li­gence in­put on De­cem­ber 30, 2015, from the Pun­jab bor­der warned New Delhi that six ter­ror­ists, with the in­ten­tion to strike at crit­i­cal mil­i­tary in­stal­la­tions, had in­fil­trated the coun­try. But as the in­tel­li­gence in­put was be­ing de­ci­phered, two of the ter­ror­ists had al­ready en­tered the In­dian Air Force (IAF) base at Pathankot, said po­lice sources.

In­ves­ti­ga­tions into the Jan­uary 2, 2016, ter­ror at­tack on the base re­vealed two of the six ter­ror­ists — all killed in a multi- agency re­sponse — had en­tered the premises at least two days be­fore the ter­ror at­tack be­gan.

Sources in the min­istry of home affairs ( MHA) said the NIA is prob­ing the role of an in­sider who not only helped the ter­ror­ists by cut­ting a por­tion of the fence cov­er­ing the air base, but also sup­plied am­mu­ni­tion to the two ter­ror­ists who en­tered first.

The two ter­ror­ists did not move and hid in the thickly forested area at the air base, and waited for the four other op­er­a­tives to en­ter, said po­lice sources. On Jan­uary 2, 2016, when the four ter­ror­ists climbed the wall and en­tered the base, an un­manned aerial ve­hi­cle (UAV) of the IAF had picked up their en­try into the base on its ther­mal imager.

The UAV was op­er­a­tional be­cause the air base was on high alert af­ter re­ceiv­ing the in­tel­li­gence in­put.

CON­TIN­UED ON P11

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