Pathankot attack: Surgical operations helped contain terrorists

Pathankot: Braving firing and intermittent shooting of mortars by terrorists, National Security Guard (NSG) aided by Garuds and the Army conducted a chain of surgical ‘step-by-step’ operations to eliminate the six militants and ensured they were contained within a 250-meter radius.

An officer privy to the operation said it was a difficult task as on the one hand they had to secure families, air assets, buildings and on the other to contain terrorists in a specific area and neutralise them. In the “well coordinated operation” troops managed to secure all air assets and 3000 families housed in the over 1900-acre air base.

“The NSG aided by the Garuds, special forces of IAF, Army conducted step-by-step surgical operational at specific places with some fire power of army to conclude the engagement with terrorists in over 38 hours in the 5-day long operation”, a senior officer told PTI.

Although seven persons lost their lives, it is being considered as a coordinated operation and real time one based with air support of attack helicopters, Dhruvs, and ground support of troops armed with infantry combat vehicles, and tanks.

“We feel that this is the most well coordinated operation with NSG, Army, DSC, Garuds and police working in tandem to eliminate militants and secure all assets inside”, the officer said.

About 300 ‘black cat’ commandos of NSG, the elite counter-terror force, deployed an assortment of most sophisticated assault weapons and “buster” ammunition tools to neutralise the terrorists who had sneaked into the Air Force base in the border town of Pathankot. In one of the longest running counter-terror operations in the country, the NSG lost its bomb squad commanding officer Lt Col E K Niranjan.

A media team was taken around the area of encounter on Tuesday and operation led by the IAF.

“The first contact was held at Military Engineer Service (MES) workshop.It was with Garuds. The militants had burnt a bus and damaged a truck”, an officer told media persons. They ran from this place…And near MES living accommodation, they fired damaging two wheelers and later went to the thick forest area close to the MES canteen”, he said.

They resorted to firing here and close to the open patch, three of them were killed.

“We used JCBs to clear a patch of forest area and chopped off some branches and these two places between accommodation and DSC Mess the maximum action took place. We contained them in this area only and conducted step-by-step surgical operations to neutralise them. See there is no damage to any of the building except to a two-storeyed building there”, the officer pointed out

“They killed one DSC…some meters away they burnt three motorcycles, and at first contact place they burnt a bus. An officer lost life in the open patch area during handling of the militants’ body”, he said.
Equipped with armoured gear, scores of NSG men are still engaged in the combing operation at the base.

The recoveries include five AK 47, Under barrel grenade launcher, three pistols, three knives, three wire cutters, 28 magazines of AK rifle, 3 pistol magazines, 40 to 50 kgs of bullets, high explosives and mortars, wireless sets, injections, some tables lighters, Indian currency and some handwritten notes in Urdu.

“They were firing through an under barrel launcher”, he said.

Security forces including the NSG and Army have deployed major combat elements along with medical and administrative support.