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Border security 5 years after surgical strikes: Terror groups adopting new tech

Pakistan Army is renovating, improving and fortifying its infrastructure across LoC

Terrorists Representational image

Approximately 150 trained terrorists are learnt to be present in launching pads in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir to launch operations by the border action teams (BATs) along the LoC and International Border. The strength of cadres at various launching pads include 50-60 across the Kashmir valley, 50-60 across Rajouri-Poonch sectors and 25-30 across Jammu border, as per latest intelligence reports.

The BAT consists of both regular Pakistan Army personnel and mercenaries of terror outfits like Laskhar-e-Tayyaba and Jaish-e-Mohammed who have carried out successive attacks on the Indian Army, including the September 18, 2016, attack on the army base in Uri in Kashmir that killed 19 soldiers in a pre-dawn terror strike.

This was followed by the biggest retaliation by the Indian Army in recent decades on September 29 that year when its special forces carried out raids across the border on multiple targets allegedly used as launching pads by the terrorists.

Five years later, favourable climate conditions and the ongoing ceasefire violation (CFV) agreement are being used by terrorists to create better infrastructure and for adoption of new technology like drones and new routes for infiltration. The recent drone attack at the Jammu airbase in June is one such example of the change in strategy.

A senior security official said the Pakistan Army is busy renovating, improving and fortifying its infrastructure across LoC. There is the ongoing ceasefire violation agreement that has resulted in decreased activity on the border and infiltration in last few months, but security forces in Jammu and Kashmir are aware that this period is critical.

A senior official said the launching pads usually become active this time of the year before the winter sets in and when the terrorists start moving from their camps inside Pakistan to the pads for further infiltration.

A security official in Jammu and Kashmir said the launching pads across the LoC and IB in PoK are intact with increased numbers in last few months.

“Attempts for infiltration have increased of late with increased strength of terrorists cadres with directions to explore new routes for infiltration,” said an official.

All security forces are alert to the possibility of increase in attempts for infiltration using different routes and technologically aided terror operation in the coming days, especially from launching pads along Neelum valley, PoK and from Poonch-Rajouri sectors along the IB.

Official figures support this claim. In August 2021, 16 terrorists had been neutralised, including four foreign terrorists. Besides, eight terrorists have been neutralised at the LoC/IB while attempting to infiltrate. The increase in infiltration attempts between July and September is significant. Till July 2021, there were only six incidents of attempted infiltration, resulting in successful infiltration of 17 militants.

However , government officials said the surgical strikes of 2016 was one of the biggest reasons for a rethink in the Pakistani security establishment. The covert strikes were followed by several counter-terror operations within Jammu and Kashmir in last five years to flush out terror groups. There was further decline in infiltration attempts since the abrogation of special status of Jammu and Kashmir in 2019 and increased border vigil. There were 99 infiltration attempts in 2020, 211 in 2019 and 328 in 2018.

Since January 2021, a total of 103 terrorists, including 13 foreign terrorists, have been neutralised in Jammu and Kashmir. But the threat is alive once again with more technological support and strategic thinking on the other side.

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