3 terrorists killed on Pak tip-off; hunt on for 7 more

16 March 2016

Indian security forces have killed three terrorists suspected to be part of a 10-member fidayeen group that entered India from the border with Pakistan in Gujarat recently to carry out terror strikes across the country.

Working on the intelligence shared by Pakistan National Security Adviser Naseer Janjua with his Indian counterpart Ajit Doval on the possibility of 10 terrorists infiltrating India from Pakistan, security agencies launched a nationwide manhunt and succeeded in tracking down three of them.

A top official in the security establishment said agencies have still not verified the identity of those killed. "Operations were conducted to hunt down the terrorists immediately after the information was received. While three have been killed, agencies are close to hunting down the others as the operation is still on," the officer said.

Without giving specifics of the operation, the official said the three terrorists were killed in a western state sometime last week. "We are yet to ascertain the identities of those killed. Their nationality has not been established yet," the official added.

Sources said there is a possibility that the 10 terrorists split in smaller groups of two or three and travelled to other states.

Officials in the security establishment said that after being tipped off by Pakistan NSA Janjua, Indian intelligence agencies were alerted and several teams, including officials from state governments, were put on the job.

Even though a formal dialogue between Pakistan and India remains stalled, the two NSAs have been communicating with each other on several occasions.

The terrorists belonging to Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and Jaish-e-Mohammed had planned to carry out multiple attacks, according to intelligence sources. The Somnath temple in Gujarat was a prime target during Shivratri on 7 March. Following the inputs, Gujarat was put on high alert. Fearing strikes on important installations, public places and places of worship, intelligence agencies had alerted state authorities across the country.

Immediately after the intelligence input on infiltration was received, the Centre had dispatched four teams of National Security Guard (NSG) to Gujarat and they were deployed at different locations in the state.

Specific alerts were also sent to Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Goa, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chandigarh.

In Gujarat, there were widespread raids soon after the input was received since the terrorists were suspected of entering India from the Gujarat border and a youth was reportedly injured in police firing as he tried to escape the police checkpoint at Kheda district.

Security was also beefed up in the national Capital as intelligence inputs indicated that a group of terrorists could also target Delhi.

The NSG teams rushed to Gujarat to secure vulnerable spots like Somnath temple, Sardar Sarovar dam and other vital installations. The cultural events organised during Shivratri were also cancelled in wake of security concerns.

Following inputs on more infiltration attempts, the home ministry also decided to restrict the number of Pakistani fans coming to India to watch the World T20. Fearing that Pakistan-based terrorists could use the opportunity to sneak in, intelligence agencies suggested a stringent mechanism for issuing visas. It was decided that not more than 250 visas would be issued for Pakistani fans per match.

After the attack by Pakistan-based terrorists on the air force base in Pathankot earlier this year, India had handed over evidence to Pakistan stating that JeM was responsible for the planning and execution of the attack.

There have been a series of infiltrations from Pakistan in the last two years, mostly from Jammu and Kashmir where the terrorists targeted security forces. Last year, Pakistan-based terrorists also carried out an attack in Gurdaspur, Punjab, after infiltrating through the state's border.

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