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United Jihad Council’s ‘Highway Squad’ claims responsibility for Pathankot terrorist attack

United Jihad Council (UJC), a conglomerate of Kashmiri militant outfits on Monday claimed responsibility for the terror attack at Pathankot Air Force base.

United Jihad Council

UJC spokesman Syed Sadaqat Hussain has said that Kashmiri militants associated with the ‘Highway Squad’ attacked the airbase.

“Indian government and its media have been suffering from Pakistan phobia. By accusing Pakistan for every attack, India neither succeeded in past to malign the Kashmir freedom struggle nor will it get anything in future through malicious propaganda,” the spokesperson said.

Syed Sadaqat Hussain said that the terrorists struck the air base on January 2. He added that the attack was carried out by “Kashmiri militants associated with highway squad”. UJC is a conglomerate of around 13 militant outfits, including the Lashkar-e-Toiba. Syed Salahuddin heads the UJC which includes terror groups such as Harkat-ul-Ansar, Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, Jamiat-ul- Mujahideen, Al-Jihad, Al-Barq, Al-Badr, Ikhwan-ul-Mussalmin, and Tehrik-ul-Mujahideen.

However, the government rubbished claims of United Jihad Council taking responsibility for the Pathankot terrorist attack. “This is deflectionary tactics”, the sources said.

The security forces killed one more terrorist during the combing operation at the Pathankot air base on Monday afternoon, taking the total number of ultras killed so far to five, said Defence Ministry sources. Four terrorists had already been liquidated last evening, following which the security forces launched a massive combing operation to eliminate two more terrorists hiding in the air base.  Union Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi had stated on Sunday that the security forces had confirmed the presence of two more terrorists on the air force station.

Seven military personnel were martyred at Pathankot in Punjab at the huge base that’s located just 25 kms from the border with Pakistan. Another 20 were injured. Five terrorists have been killed.

The attack began at dawn on Saturday when the terrorists, who reportedly crossed the border into India on the night of December 30, started firing indiscriminately. They allegedly entered the base in two groups -the first hijacked the vehicle of a senior police officer and used the car to enter the base, which holds fighter jets and attack helicopters.

The attack came about a week after a surprise visit by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif, the first by an Indian premier in 12 years.

Officials said the attack bore the hallmarks of previous suspected assaults by Pakistan-based terror groups, underscoring the fragility of recent efforts to revive talks between the neighbours.

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