Grenades with the markings of a Rawalpindi ordnance factory, made-in-Pakistan biscuits and chocolates, telling GPS entries — Pakistan’s signature is all over the recent terror strikes in Jammu and Kashmir, counter-terror experts and top army sources told HT on Saturday.
These items were recovered from the possession of 12 fidayeen (suicide attackers) who struck Uri, Soura and Arnia in the last eight days. Investigations into the three attacks reveal a well-thought-out plan by the Lashkar-e-Taiba — with active help from Islamabad — to disrupt the assembly elections that have seen peaceful polling and record turnouts, the sources said.
“The terror attacks have an unmistakable Pakistan stamp. The GPS entries are proof of it. The suicide bombers who attacked Uri entered from the Line of Control. GPS entries record that,” Northern Army commander Lt Gen DS Hooda told HT.
Four terrorists had attacked an army camp in Jammu’s Arnia sector on November 27, a day before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the region for a rally. Similarly, six gunmen hit the Uri army base and another two tried to kill innocents in Soura near Srinagar on Friday — again, days ahead of the PM’s rally in the capital.
Twenty-one people, including 14 security personnel, as well as all 12 terrorists were killed. Friday saw two more terror strikes in the Valley that left two civilians dead.
The GPS units of the terrorists in Arnia, which is 3km from the International Border (IB), showed Sialkot as their last known position on November 24.
Those of the Uri attackers showed they’d been in Chham, a known militant launching pad across the LoC, on December 3 and had crossed over at least one day before the attack, investigators said.
The IB is patrolled by the Pakistan Rangers and the BSF on the Indian side while the LoC is manned by the two armies. Investigators are convinced the intruders couldn’t have crossed over without the connivance of Pakistani troops.
According to the investigators, the Uri gunmen carried ready-to-eat meal packets (pav bhaji, chicken achari, dry fruits, etc) regularly used by the Pakistan army, and packets of made-in-Pakistan ‘Super Biscuits’ and chocolates. They had 37 grenades with markings of an ordnance factory in Rawalpindi’s Wah Cantonment and 1,500 rounds of ammunition.
“They came prepared for the long haul,” Lt Gen Hooda, who accompanied army chief General Dalbir Singh to Uri on Saturday, told HT.
The counter-terror sources said the suicide mission plan was conceived in Pakistan around November 20, before the first phase of elections. The Uri and Soura attackers were dressed in black Pathan suits.
The body of Qari Asrar, a Lashkar commander gunned down by security forces in Soura, was totally shaved — a custom followed by most fidayeen. Police suspect the other Soura attacker was Lashkar operative Irshad Ganai, a Kashmiri suspected of involvement in the 2013 Hyderpora firing incident in which 9 armymen were killed.
The Arnia attackers wore thigh-high gumboots to cross a rivulet during the infiltration and rubber gloves to cut the wire fencing, the sources said. These were found with their clothes in a nearby village, abandoned after the men changed into battle fatigues.
Investigators said the Uri attack could have snowballed had the gunmen managed to get into an adjacent camp of the Border Roads Organisation. “We were able to contain the terrorists who attempted to cut the wire and enter the BRO facility where many families were staying,” Lt Gen Hooda said.
“There are 140 people in the BRO camp. If the terrorists had got in, they may have attempted to take civilians hostage,” said an army official.
“As the firefight started in the Uri camp, some of the terrorists fired towards the living quarters. One jawan managed to escape but four others were burnt to death as the structure caught fire.”
The army has issued fresh orders to its units in J&K to secure fortifications and be prepared for more suicide attacks. “The high voter turnout has rattled the Pakistani establishment and only two of the five phases of polling have been completed so far.”
While disrupting the elections was the main target, sources said the attacks were also synchronized with Lashkar founder and 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed’s two-day congregation in Lahore to boost the terror group’s credibility and its commitment to ‘liberate’ Kashmir.