Pathankot Attack: Terrorists May Have Entered Air Base Before Alert Was Sounded, Say Security Agencies

04/01/2016 3:59 PM IST | Updated 29/08/2016 9:03 PM IST
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An Indian army soldier is seen during a search operation in a forest area outside the Pathankot air force base in Pathankot, India, Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016. Combing operations to secure the Indian air force base where a group of militants started an attack before dawn on Saturday were continuing late Sunday morning. (AP Photo/Channi Anand)

NEW DELHI -- Terrorists, who displayed "military -like tactics" in the Pathankot air base strike, may have entered the campus before an alert was sounded while crucial hours were lost in verifying a Punjab Police SP's claims about his abduction by the attackers, security agencies said.

Sources said that immediately after the alarm was sounded, security at all vital installations, including the Pathankot air base in Punjab, was enhanced to the highest level to make it difficult for the terrorists to mount an attack.

"We suspect the terrorists must have entered the air base in the morning of January 1 while the alert was sounded a few hours later in the evening," they said.

A few hours were also lost in verifying the inputs provided by Punjab Police SP Salwinder Singh, who has claimed that he was kidnapped along with two others by the terrorists, the sources added.

Sources said that police officers whom the SP had informed about the terrorists initially did not take him seriously, thus leading to some crucial hours being lost.

Security agencies are suspecting there were six terrorists and they were divided into two groups -- one of 4 and the other with 2 members.

The four in the first group were killed on Saturday while the two members of the second group were fighting till today.

The sources said that the final count of terrorists involved in the attack would be clear following the completion of the operation, the final stages of which saw the building from which fire was being directed being blown up.

Sources, meanwhile, added that the level of training of the Pathankot terrorists seems even better than that of the Mumbai 26/11 attackers. It is clear from the tactics that these terrorists have employed that a professional army had trained them, they said.

The terrorists used all the tactics of professional fighters like conserving firepower, attacking at 3 AM when the level of alertness is at its lowest and going quiet to give the impression that all the attackers had died. All these tactics are of military precision, the sources said.

With the driver of the Toyota Innova vehicle, Ikadar Singh, having been picked up by the terrorists from a spot near Gulpur-Samboli, 5km away from the International Border, it is being suspected that they crossed the border near that area. The terrorists had later killed the driver.

The National Investigation Agency, which will probe the Pathankot attack, will also probe the killing of the driver and the kidnapping of the SP.

NIA is already questioning the SP and his cook, who was also in the vehicle. The SP had first given the information that there were four terrorists.

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