Nirmala Sitharaman said the terrorists who sneaked into the family quarters of the Sunjuwan camp belonged to Jaish-e-Mohammed and had their handlers in Pakistan

Jammu: Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Monday vowed that Pakistan will pay for its misadventure in Jammu and the sacrifice of soldiers who died in the attack on the Sunjuwan camp will not go in vain.

Addressing a press conference in Jammu, Sitharaman said that Pakistan has been expanding its arc of terror to areas south of Pir Panjal and its role behind the attack stands exposed.

She said that the terrorists who sneaked into the family quarters of the camp belonged to Jaish-e-Mohammed, which is sponsored by Azhar Masood, who resides in Pakistan and derives support from the country’s establishment.

“These terrorists were sponsored by Pakistan. Their handlers are across the border. There is also a possibility that they enjoyed local support,” she said.

Giving out the details of the attack, Sitharaman said that three terrorists were killed while the fourth was a guide and he did not enter the campus. She said that the forces have completed their operation, but sanitization of the premises is still underway.

We had received an alert about the possibility of an attack, which is why a Quick Response Team was positioned at various places in the city, including at the family quarters of Sunjuwan camp. The terrorists were dressed in battle fatigues and they all split to sneak into the camp,” the defence minister said.

Complementing the valour of soldiers for carrying out the entire operation with precision, Sitharaman said that the operation to flush out the terrorists was deliberately slow to avoid any collateral damage. “A 189 flats had to be cleared,” she said.

When asked if the high number of terror attacks was a sign of any security lapses, the defence minister said that Sunjuwan camp is just 30 km from international border, and the tough terrain and snow conditions make it difficult to completely stop infiltration. She said that the high number of ceasefire violations on the Line of Control are being done to assist infiltration into Kashmir.

She refused to be drawn into the controversy over Jammu and Kashmir chief minister’s statement that talks with Pakistan are a must to end bloodshed in the Valley. Without answering if talks were a possibility, she said that she shares the grief of Mufti.

The Sunjuwan attack was the worst in months, with five soldiers and the father of one of the soldiers killed and women and children among the ten wounded. Pakistan, however, has denied responsibility and said India should not rush to judgment without a full inquiry.