Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday said militants who killed five soldiers and a civilian at an Army camp in Jammu were Pakistanis and warned that Islamabad will pay a price for the terror attack.
“Pakistan will have to pay for this misadventure,” Sitharaman told reporters here. The deaths of “our soldiers won’t go in vain”. The minister was in Jammu to take stock of the situation at the Sunjuwan Army camp which three heavily armed militants stormed on Saturday morning and entered the residential quarters of junior commissioned officers, spraying bullets and hurling bombs.
The operation was called off on Monday morning after the three attackers were killed. A fourth one, she said, may have been a guide and didn’t enter the military base.
“Since the terrorist were dressed in battle fatigues and had similar appearance to their possible target victims, the operation had to be done (in a way) to eliminate the possibility of any mistaken identity of collateral damage.”
She said the operations entailed a search of 26 blocks and safe evacuation of families from 189 residential flats.
Sitharaman said the three militants were all Pakistanis and were handled by their Jaish-e-Muhammad leaders across the border.
“The terrorists belonged to JeM, sponsored by Masood Azhar residing in Pakistan and deriving support from therein,” she said, adding a possibility of local support was being investigated.
“The cantonment is located on the outskirts of Jammu, approximately 30 km from the International Boundary, in a semi-urban environment with densely populated civilian localities adjacent to the cantonment perimeter wall. The demography of the cantonment and the adjoining area indicates the possibility of local support to the terrorists.”
She said the Jaish module that conducted the attack may have infiltrated sometime back.
“Our intelligence inputs indicate that these terrorists were being controlled by handlers from across the border. The evidence has been scrutinised by National Investigation Agency who shall soon furnish a detailed report.”