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NIA to seek Pak help in cracking Pathankot terror attack case

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The NIA will seek help of Pakistan in solving the Pathankot terror attack case once the identity of people contacted by the perpetrators has been established, the anti-terror probe agency’s chief Sharad Kumar said today.

Kumar, who will be flying tomorrow to the Pathankot Indian Air Force base for an on-the-spot assessment, said solving the conspiracy behind the attack is a “very big challenge” but recalled how the agency had in the past established the identity of culprits in many blind cases.

“It’s a very challenging case and a lot of investigation needs to be done. Therefore, I am not fixing any deadline to the case but we will try to complete the probe soon,” Kumar said.

Asked about the nationality of the terrorists involved in Pathankot attack, Kumar said there was little doubt that the accused were from Pakistan and added “whatever evidence that is available in front of us till now is based on intercepted telephone calls between the terrorists and their handlers and family members across the border”.

He, however, refrained from naming the terror group responsible for the attack, saying “Let us work first. We will be able to establish everything once we have some evidence to support our claims. The case has to be proved before the court of law and therefore I will refrain from making statements on speculation.”

The terrorists were believed to owe allegiance to Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed.

Kumar said the probe was at an initial stage and refused to confirm if Pakistan’s external spy agency ISI had a role to play in the incident. “I can’t say whether ISI is involved or not. Let us see what happens after our probe is completed,” he said.

NIA had yesterday registered three cases in connection with the brazen terror strike, including the murder of a taxi driver by suspected terrorists, kidnapping of a Superintendent of Police rank officer and attack on the IAF base on the intervening night of January one and two.

The NIA Chief also said the agency would try to identify the slain terrorists and may seek Pakistan’s help in getting the voice samples of those from across the border whose voices figured in intercepted conversations.

“We will ask them (Pakistan) to give us the voice samples once we identify these people,” he said.

The terrorists had made several calls from the local mobile phone of a jeweller Rajesh Verma to places in Pakistan including Bahawalpur where they spoke to their handlers as well as family members, official sources said.

The NIA chief said Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) team was already assisting the 20-member agency team that is camping in Pathankot after the news of terror strike broke in the morning of January two.

“We will also collect the DNA samples from all the dead bodies of the terrorists which may come in handy in future,” he said.

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