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Pathankot attack: Terrorists aim stands defeated, says Home Secretary

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New Delhi: Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi on Sunday said the apparent main aim of the terrorists, who attacked the Pathankot Air Force Station, stands defeated due to active intelligence inputs and advance information, and quick action taken by the security forces.

“Due to active intelligence inputs and advance information, and quick action taken by the security forces, especially the Air Force, we were able to ensure that there is no damage to the assets of the Air Force, and therefore, the apparent main aim of the terrorists stands defeated,” said Mehrishi.

Elaborating on the outcome of the anti-terrorist operation, he said four terrorists had been neutralised last evening, while two more were being engaged by the security forces at the base.

Mehrishi said the combing operation to bring the situation under control is still on.

“There was no further firing, but it was not certain whether there were other terrorists (apart from the two being engaged) or not. The firing stopped last night, therefore, we were not sure if all terrorists were killed or not. And when combing started in the morning, we did find at least two more terrorists,” Mehrishi said.

“We are hopeful that they will also be neutralised by (this) evening,” he added.

Mehrishi, who was addressing a joint press conference with Air Marshal Anil Khosla, Director General, Air Operations, Air Headquarters, said six Air Force personnel and one National Security Guard (NSG) man was killed in the operation, while eight Air Force and 12 NSG personnel received injuries.

Paying homage to the brave hearts, Air Marshal Khosla said these lives were not lost in vain and their sacrifice really helped us in saving the situation and not allowing the terrorists in their design.

Divulging detail of the operation, Air Marshal Khosla said, “An advance warning was given and all the airfields in the area was put on alert, especially Pathankot area…Air Officer Commanding in Chief of the Western Command himself went to the airfield and supervised all the operations.”

“The coordination was done by all the security agencies – Air Force, NSG, Army and the Punjab Police – and all aerial assets were put into place for air surveillance. All these efforts paid dividends and whatever inputs came they were investigated. At 3.30 in the morning yesterday (Saturday), while investigating one of the inputs, fire was opened by terrorists on one of the patrols – that is the first engagement took place,” he added.

Air Marshal Khosla said the security forces coordinated very well and didn’t let the terrorists go towards the technical area where all important, high-value assets and aerial platforms were kept.

“These terrorists were contained, operation continued and by Saturday evening, four of them were neutralised. The airfield could not be declared fully sanitised till the each and every place is checked, and ascertained that there is no anti-national element is present there,” he added.

Air Marshal Khosla further said the operation slowed down in the night, adding that the areas were cordoned and terrorists were not allowed to move anywhere.

“In the morning, when the bodies of the terrorists were being recovered, the fire was noticed again. It was realised that there were two more and the operations are continuing to neutralise these two also. The operations are at the mature stage, but the confirmation we gave was only once we physically see the bodies of the terrorists,” he added.

Air Marshal Khosla lauded the coordination between all the agencies during the operation.

“The coordination between all the agencies was very good and pro-active stance helped us in averting a much bigger and a major damage of calamity,” Air Marshal Khosla said.

“In Pathankot airbase, the combing operation is still going on. During the search operation, a blast was reported from inside in which a Lt. Col. of the Indian Army lost his life and five commandos were injured who are being treated. The total number of martyrs during the operation has reached seven so far,” he added. (ANI)

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