NEW DELHI: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) team probing into the Pathankot airbase attack on Monday released photographs of four of the six attackers, seeking the public’s help in their identification.
As per the agency’s website, the first attacker is 5’6” tall and thin built, the second is 5’7” tall and medium built, the third is 5’8” tall and healthy built and have no toes at all and the fourth one is 5’7” tall and medium built. All four attackers were circumcised, the website further said.
On January 2, a group of heavily armed terrorists, suspected to be belonging to the Pakistani terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed, struck at the airbase in Punjab.
Security agencies had earlier differed on the number of terrorists who carried out the attack. The National Security Guards which led the anti-terror operation counted six bodies – four bodies were recovered and the charred remains of two others were recovered from a building inside the Pathankot airbase. And the National Investigation Agency had said that only four terrorists’ bodies were found and no material evidence collected from the site suggested the presence of the other two terrorists. Subsequently the charred remains were sent for forensic examination which confirmed presence of six terrorists.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh last week confirmed in Parliament that six terrorists had been involved in the attack.
However, amid the debate over the number of the attackers, the National Investigation Agency has decided to send the charred remains for a second forensic examination.
Intelligence agencies had said that the militants were in touch with their Jaish-e-Mohammed handlers in Pakistan and made several calls to Bahawalpur, Pakistan, before the attack.
National Security Advisor Ajit Doval had also handed over crucial leads, including mobile intercepts, to his Pakistani counterpart Naseer Khan Janjua, seeking action against Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar. Azhar was one of the terrorists India had to free in return for the release of the passengers of Indian Airlines Flight 814.
India had said that evidence to nail Azhar is in Pakistan and that Pakistani investigators must work on the leads. Pakistan has kept Azhar in “protective custody” since January 14. “As a precautionary measure, the head of JeM has been under protective custody… That is what has been reported by the agencies concerned,” Pakistan Pakistan Prime Minister’s Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz had said.
However, Pakistan said the evidence was insufficient and decided to send a team Special Investigation Team to India to collect more evidence. The Pakistani investigators will arrive in India on March 27.