Pathankot attack: NIA trying to verify identity of mystery man

  • Rajesh Ahuja, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Mar 08, 2016 01:00 IST
Indian Army personnel stand guard at the air force base at Pathankot during search operations. (Sameer Sehgal/ HT Photo)

Apart from working out how many men attacked the Pathankot air base, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) is also trying to verify several eyewitness accounts which purport that an unidentified man was seen running towards the barracks of the airmen where the alleged fifth and sixth attackers were suspected to be hiding.

“Investigators have come across some eyewitness accounts that suggest a person was seen running towards the barracks and then he just disappeared. The said person was sighted before the NSG mounted an assault on the barracks to flush out the attackers,” a home ministry official said.

He added, “We are baffled by this claim as the whole air base was cordoned off with multi-layered security. It was simply not possible for anyone to breach the cordon. So far, investigators have not found any corroboratory evidence that can confirm the eyewitness accounts.”

A day after neutralising four terrorists on January 2, the security forces suspected the presence of some more attackers in the barracks. After more than 30 hours of firing, only a few pieces of flesh without any bones were found from the ground floor of the barracks where at least two attackers were suspected to be hiding.

The federal anti-terror agency has sent the pieces of flesh for forensic examination to see if they contain any human DNA. The report of the analysis is awaited.

So far, the NIA has managed to establish that at least four attackers entered the air base on the intervening night of December 31 and January 1. They made calls to their Pakistani handlers, some of which were intercepted by Indian security agencies. The intercepted calls make it clear that the attackers entered India from near Bamiyal village in Gurdaspur district on December 30, said sources.

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