Intel inputs failed to prevent strike

Intel inputs failed to prevent strike

Despite specific intelligence alert of a terror strike, the four heavily-armed militants not only managed to enter the strategic Air Force station in Pathankot, but they also unleashed an unprecedented terror strike.

In fact, the militants who targeted the Air force installation are believed to have been hiding in the area since the New Year’s eve. At the break of dawn on January 1, security agencies were left with little doubts of the possibility of a terror strike looming large over Punjab. A heavy contingent of commandos of the National Security Guards (NSG) were rushed from New Delhi to Pathankot on Friday evening, a night before the attack took place.

A high alert too was issued in border districts of Pathankot and Gurdaspur. Even the military and air force establishments in Pathankot were alerted. However, nothing could prevent the terror strike at the air force base since the militants could not be apprehended. Intelligence agencies had alerted all authorities concerned of infiltration bid by many terrorists from across the border ahead of the new year and had warned of a terror strike around the same time.

That the militants were hiding in the area also probably became evident in the terror footprints, including the kidnap of a senior Punjab police official on December 31 by the suspected militants, that they left in the run up to the final assault that took place more than 24 hours later. Despite all the paraphernalia in place, a breach in security apparatus took place.

It is still unclear if these militants had freshly infiltrated into Punjab. The closest the terrorists had come to Punjab before these two attacks in Punjab was in 2014 when a Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist was held at a railway station in Pathankot.

The areas around the air force base station were cleared of all road side vendors by the evening on Friday, a day before the attack took place. The Air Force police extended the barricades to a distance to restrict movement on the road leading to the defence base.

The Garuda commandos and the perimeter security set up in place at the station were all alerted. For an entire day ahead of the strike, the police launched a manhunt for the militants but could not apprehend any of them.

Ashok Kumar, a local resident staying close to the base, said by the evening only a few shops remained open close to the base because of the barricading by the air force. “We woke up with the sound of gun shots and blasts. We knew something was brewing given the high security that was put in place the previous evening”, he said.
 

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