Four of the nine terrorists involved in Thursday's attack on Kamra airbase in Punjab province had been identified, Malik said during an interaction with the media yesterday as he described the North and South Waziristan as a hotbed for criminals.
He claimed the attack had been foiled and all the terrorists were killed because of an advance warning about a possible attack on PAF installations.
The attackers had been trained in Waziristan tribal region bordering Afghanistan and the raid "could be traced back to North and South Waziristan", he said.
The Taliban were harbouring criminals from all over the country and there is a need to trace the mastermind who sent the terrorists to Kamra, he added.
His hard comments about terrorists harbouring in Waziristan come as speculation mounted here about a military offensive in the offing in the region.
Nine terrorists and two PAF personnel were killed during the attack. A rocket-propelled grenade fired by the attackers damaged a Saab-2000 surveillance aircraft.
The banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was carried out to avenge the killing of Taliban commander Baitullah Mehsud and Osama bin Laden.
Answering a question from reporters, Malik said no decision had been taken as yet about launching an operation against militants in North Waziristan.
Such a decision will not be taken under foreign pressure, he said.
Rejecting Western media reports, Malik said the defence of the country and its nuclear assets were in safe hands.
"When we can develop nuclear assets we also know how to protect them," he claimed.
Ten suspects were picked up during a search in areas around the Kamra cantonment yesterday and they are being interrogated, The Express Tribune reported.
A large number of Afghan refugees live in different parts of Kamra district and there is no record of them with authorities.
A team has been set up to investigate the terrorist attack on the airbase and to identify all the attackers.
The autopsy of the bodies of the terrorists was done late on Thursday at a state-run hospital amid tight security.
During the autopsy, law enforcement personnel collected fingerprints which would be sent to the National Database and Registration Authority.
Islamabad: The terrorists who attacked a key Pakistan Air Force base had been trained in the Waziristan tribal region where plans for the raid could be traced, Interior Minister Rehman Malik has said.
First Published: Saturday, August 18, 2012, 14:04