New Delhi: The terrorists who attacked the IAF base in Pathankot came in groups of four and two and the bigger group was ticked off by their Pakistani handler as to why they have fallen behind in reaching the target when their accomplices had already entered the complex.
Official sources while giving this information on Monday said two gunmen from the group of six Pakistani terrorists might have entered Pathankot air base in Punjab before they kidnapped a state Superintendent of Police (SP) and much before an alert was sounded about their presence in the area.
There is "high probability" that at least two terrorists have entered the Indian Air Force base before Punjab Police SP Salwinder Singh, his jeweller friend Rajesh Verma and Singh's cook were kidnapped in an SUV on 31 December, the sources said.
Verma, whose throat was slit but survived, told his interrogators that he had heard the four terrorists, who boarded the vehicle after hijacking it, talking to their handlers, believed to be in Pakistan.
The handler apparently ticked off the four terrorists saying why they could not enter the air base as two other terrorists have already reached the target to carry out the attack on Saturday.
The four terrorists told their handlers that they were on their way but could not reach the base as there were several police pickets on the way, according to details of investigations.
There is also possibility that these four terrorists entered the Pathankot air base in the morning of 1 January, much before an alarm was sounded in the area to secure all vital installations later in the evening of that day, sources said.
The hijacked vehicle was also found near the air base.
Crucial hours were lost in verifying the Punjab Police SP's claims that he was kidnapped along with two others by the terrorists.
Sources said that police officers whom the SP had informed about the terrorists initially did not take him seriously due to his "dubious past", thus leading to some crucial hours being lost.
Sources said that immediately after the alarm was sounded, security at all vital installations, including the Pathankot air base, was enhanced to the highest level to make it difficult for the terrorists to mount an attack.
Security agencies believe there were six terrorists and they were divided into two groups: one with four and the other with two members.
The top security brass of the government knew by 1 January that Pathankot air base would be the target of the terrorists, who were still at large and steps were taken immediately to beef up security.
First priority for the government was to secure the assets parked in the technical area and a NSG team comprising about 160 commandos was dispatched and they were deployed along with other special forces to guard the assets in the inner periphery.