In­dia charges Pak­istan-based mil­i­tants over air base at­tack

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

In­dia’s top counter-ter­ror­ism agency yes­ter­day charged Pak­istan-based mil­i­tant group Jaish-e-Mo­hammed (JeM), and its top leader, with per­pe­trat­ing a deadly at­tack on an In­dian air force base in Jan­uary. The Na­tional In­ves­ti­ga­tion Agency (NIA) stated that all four gun­men who stormed the air base on Jan 2 were Pak­istani na­tion­als and that Maulana Ma­sood Azhar, the top leader of JeM, was the mas­ter­mind be­hind the at­tack. “All the ter­ror­ists are ac­cused of wag­ing war against In­dia. This was a crim­i­nal con­spir­acy to at­tack our se­cu­rity in­fras­truc­ture,” said a se­nior of­fi­cial at the NIA in New Delhi.

The pre­sen­ta­tion of a charge-sheet to a trial court wraps up In­dia’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the 18-hour siege at the Pathankot air base in which seven In­dian se­cu­rity per­son­nel and the four as­sailants were killed. The at­tack, which came a week af­ter In­dian Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi paid an im­promptu visit to his Pak­istani coun­ter­part, Nawaz Sharif, de­railed a ten­ta­tive thaw be­tween the nu­clear-armed ri­vals.

A joint in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the at­tack went nowhere and ten­sion be­tween the neigh­bors has risen over the course of a year marked by protests and cross-bor­der clashes in the dis­puted re­gion of Kash­mir. In­ves­ti­ga­tors in New Delhi said the chargesheet and ev­i­dence would be of­fered to Pak­istani au­thor­i­ties to take ac­tion against the per­pe­tra­tors of the at­tack. “We want Pak­istan to ar­rest Maulana Ma­sood Azhar and he should be de­ported to In­dia,” said a se­nior In­dian home min­istry of­fi­cial who is over­see­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The charge-sheet cited DNA sam­ples, food pack­ets from Pak­istan found in wood­lands near the air base, a walkie-talkie set and a note found in a car used by the mil­i­tants to drive to the base. In­dia has long ac­cused Pak­istan of us­ing Jaish-eMo­ham­mad as a proxy to mount at­tacks on In­dian soil and had ear­lier given what it called “ac­tion­able in­tel­li­gence” to Pak­istan, in­clud­ing tele­phone in­ter­cepts. Pak­istan briefly held Azhar, an Is­lamist hard­liner who was blamed for a 2001 at­tack on In­dia’s par­lia­ment, af­ter the air base at­tack. Its in­ves­ti­ga­tors later found no ev­i­dence against either Azhar or Jaish-eMo­hammed. — Reuters

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