Just hours before terrorists struck the Indian Air Force base at Pathankot in the wee hour of Saturday, security agencies had swung into action and rushed a crack team of National Security Guards, who acted on advance intelligence to thwart the terror attack on a defence installation in the area.
Five terrorists and three security personnel have been killed in the terror attack on the Pathankot Air Force base in Punjab on Saturday morning. The encounter between security forces and the terrorists ended several hours after the attack but combing operations in the area are still on.
A battery of 50 NSG commandos, led by a major-general, was flown in a special aircraft from Delhi to Pathankot on Friday night after security officials connected the dots on an incident earlier in the day in which five armed men in army fatigues had waylaid a Punjab police official near Pathankot, and concluded that four to six heavily-armed terrorists were on the loose.
While the Gurdaspur Superintendent of Police Salwinder Singh was kidnapped and later freed, terrorists killed his driver and injured a friend before escaping in his vehicle. Based on information shared by police official and injured person and some “ definite inputs”, security agencies had concluded by Friday evening that the kidnappers were heavily-armed terrorists on a “suicidal mission” to attack a specific target, top security sources told Hindustan Times.
A high alert was sounded while both Punjab police and central agencies worked in tandem and quickly mobilized resources to track and neutralize the terrorists on loose. National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, based on intelligence inputs, took the call on dispatching a battery of NSG commandos to Pathankot by Friday late evening. Soon after landing, the commandos were rushed to the Air Force base and an army cantonment at Mamoon near Pathankot while a major search operation was launched. Terrorists struck at 3 am at the air force base, and NSG commandos were ready to combat them.
Hence, the attackers were met with strong resistance from the security personnel who were already alert to the possibility of an attack, which is why perhaps the terrorists could not enter the air base and managed to reach only to the langer area on the outside.
The strike is believed to be launched by Jaish-e-Mohammad and the target was to destroy military installations.
It is the second big terror attack in Punjab within a year after three militants stormed a police station in Diana Nagar before being eliminated after an encounter in July.
The attack comes days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s unscheduled visit to Pakistan.