Jammu, Feb 12: Asserting that the two-day long Sunjuwan Terror Attack on military station here in which five soldiers attained martyrdom, a civilian died, 10 people got injured and three terrorists were eliminated, Union Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday said that the attack was sponsored by Jaish-e-Mohammad Chief Azhar Masood.
She also said that Pakistan will have to pay for this misadventure.
“The counter terrorist operations at Sunjuwan here were called off on Monday morning at 1030 hours but, the sanitisation operations are on,” said the Defence Minister while addressing a press conference here at Tiger Divsion.
She said, “the terrorists belonged to Jaish-E-Mohammad outfit sponsored by Azhar Masood, residing in Pakistan and deriving support from there in”.
“The terrorists had chosen to attack a Military Station which housed both troops and families of the Indian Army. The cantonment is located on the outskirts of Jammu, approximately 30 Kms from the International Boundary, in a semi urbanized environment with densely populated civilian localities, adjacent to the cantonments perimeter fence,” she said adding that the demography of the cantonment and adjoining area indicates the possibility of local support to the terrorists.
Ms Sitharaman added that an alert had been sounded on the likelihood of terrorist attack around this period and accordingly, Quick Reaction Teams were positioned in vulnerable areas.
“It was assessed that Pakistan sponsored terrorists may target softer elements, hence a QRT was also positioned at the Sunjuwan family accommodation,” adding, “the intrusion of the terrorists inside the Cantonment was promptly detected by the sentry and challenged by the nearest available QRT, leading to a brief exchange of fire”.
“This immediate action compelled the terrorists to split into single individuals thereby preventing a coordinated strike,” she added.
The Union Minister said that the scattered terrorists then rushed towards their pre-designated target of the family quarters and occupied some of the accommodation blocks and they were then isolated.
“Since the terrorists were dressed in battle fatigues and had similar appearance to their possible target victims, the operation had to be done deliberately to eliminate the possibility of any mistaken identity or collateral damage.,” she added and said that the operations entailed a deliberate search of 26 Blocks and safe evacuation of families from 189 flats which was time consuming and a challenging task.
“This was successfully achieved with no fatal casualties to our troops conducting the Counter Terrorist operations but six fatal casualties, including a civilian, were caused by the terrorists due to their firing on unarmed service personnel and their dependents during the initial seizing of the residential quarters in an attempt to gain forceful entry into the family quarters,” said Ms Sitharaman.
“Three terrorists have been eliminated although there was information of four terrorists in the area. It is likely that the fourth terrorist was a guide and may not have entered the premises,” she said.
The Jaish-e-Mohammad module which conducted the attack may have infiltrated sometime back and there is a possibility of them having enjoyed local support before the final operations, said the Union Minister.
“Our Intelligence inputs indicate that these terrorists were being controlled by their handlers from across the border. The evidence is being scrutinized by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), who shall soon furnish a detailed report,” she maintained.
“Pakistan is expanding the arc of terror to the areas south of Pir Panjal Ranges and resorting to Ceasefire violations to assist infiltration,” she said and added that these are being responded appropriately.
“Infiltration across the Line of Control has ebbed to a great extent by the Anti-Infiltration Obstacle System (AIOS) and a dynamic multi layered counter infiltration grid,” the Defence Minister said and added that the activities of the terrorists in the hinterland are being severely curtailed due to the relentless efforts of the security forces.
She however, expressed condolences on loss of lives of brave soldiers and their families during the attack of cowardice and assured the Nation that their sacrifice would not go in vain.
“We will continue to thwart any attempt by Pakistan sponsored terrorists to cause violence in our Country and necessary action to deal with them through our Counter Terrorist Strategy has been put into action,” she asserted.