Three heavily armed terrorists behind Monday’s audacious attack in Gurdaspur district were ostensibly Muslims, said official sources.
Though markings on their weapons and belongings had been rubbed out, security forces depended on body features to ascertain their identities.
“The gunmen, in their early 20s, were found to be circumcised and had their chests shaved and beards trimmed. In most of the previous attacks we have found suicide or fidayeen attackers shave their chest before embarking on suicide mission,” said a senior government functionary who was involved in the operation to neutralise them.
“We have reasons to believe in all likelihood they belonged to terror outfit Lashkar-e-Taiba and sneaked in from Pakistan early Monday morning,” he added.
Top Punjab Police sources say the terrorists had taken ample precautions to hide their identities to confuse the security agencies.
The ultras armed with sophisticated weapons had used grenades of green and white colour and the markings on ammunition boxes were erased. “All labels had been removed from terrorists’ clothes,” said a senior police officer.
Also, when Punjab Police cornered them, they were repeatedly heard raising slogans such as “Allah-hu-Akbar” and “Pakistan Zinbaad”.
“The gunmen had two global positioning system (GPS) devices to help them move towards their intended locations. Tracking of these GPS devices has clearly indicated that the terrorists came from the Pakistani side towards Pathankot, said a senior police officer.
“This is first time that terrorists after sneaking in from Pakistan in Jammu area have come towards Punjab. There is heavy police bandobast in Jammu and Kashmir due to the annual Amarnath Yatra. That might be the reason they may have come down to bordering district in Punjab,” said another home ministry official requesting anonymity.
The police recovered 18 magazines from the encounter site. The way this terror attack was conducted, police sources say, it was clear that pro-Khalistan militants were not involved in the operation as they were not known to carry out fidayeen strikes.
“This incident has nothing to do with the revival of terrorism in the state as it was an act of terrorist group active outside the state,” chief minister Parkash Singh Badal said.