Militants, who stormed the Army camp at Nagrota in Jammu region on November 29, used a silencer-fitted weapon to kill a sentry before gaining entry into the premises, a tactic adopted by the attackers for the first time in the troubled state. After sneaking into the camp from the rear side, which had thick vegetation that provided natural cover of elephant grass, one of the militants fired at the sentry using a silencer-fitted weapon, official sources said.
As someone noticed the fall of the sentry, panic gripped the Army camp, which houses an artillery unit having presence of families of soldiers. Soon firing erupted. The sources said night illuminators were fired to locate the militants who had by then entered an adjacent two-storey building where families of soldiers were staying.
Anticipating a hostage-like situation, the Army troops with the help of para-commandos rescued the women and children first before launching a final onslaught on the militants.
Drones were pressed into the service which helped the snipers eliminate the militants inside the camp, the sources said.
Seven Army personnel, including two officers, were killed in the attack by the three militants, who were also eliminated in the counteroffensive which lasted nearly four hours.
Seeking to joining the dots related to the attack, multiple security agencies have indicated that three attackers had infiltrated into India from across the international border at Hiranagar in Kathua district of Jammu region.
The security agencies had recovered an iCom wireless set near a tree in Hirnagar that matched the frequency of the sets carried by the militants, sources said.
Not ruling out the possibility of local assistance being provided to the militants, sources said they had possibly entered into India on the night of November 28-29 and travelled a distance of 78 km to the Army camp using a well-connected national highway before mounting the assault in the morning.
Nagrota attack bares chinks in security infrastructure around military bases
Initially, it was speculated that the militants could have travelled to the Army camp from Kashmir, a possibility that was rejected after the vehicular movement was scrutinised from the CCTVs installed at vantage points along the national highway linking the Valley to the rest of the country.
There were some intelligence leads suggesting that a militant sympathiser from Poonch had ferried the militants to the Army camp, they said.
BSF officials had initially rejected suggestions that militants entered through the international border but after the recovery of the wireless set, they started their internal probe. The case is now being probed by National Investigation Agency (NIA).