3 IAF personnel and 4 terrorists gunned down in Pathankot Air Force base attack
Pathankot, India | Red Newswire | Jan 2, 2016, 12:40 PM IST
Security forces gunned down four terrorists at an air force base in Punjab’s Pathankot district on Saturday morning, ending a four-hour siege that set alarm bells ringing in the country on the second day of a new year. Three Indian Air Force (IAF) personnel were martyred in the gunfight.
“The gun battle between the terrorists and security forces ended by 8am on Saturday,” said HS Dhillon, additional director general (law and order) of Punjab Police.
“However, the combing operation continues,” he said.
But soon after, loud explosions were heard from inside the Pathankot air force base, with sources suggesting the encounter was underway.
A defence source said the terrorists from JeM, blamed for the December 2001 attack on Parliament that killed 11 people, had probably infiltrated about three days ago.
A team of 50 commandos of the National Security Guard (NSG) led the fight against the militants in Pathankot, a top security official said.
The NSG commandos were flown to Pathankot on Friday night in view of a security threat after the abduction and thrashing of Gurdaspur SP (headquarters) Salwinder Singh by terrorists, who dodged security forces and escaped.
Pathankot — located at the tri-junction of Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh — has an army cantonment and the air force base, which is barely 10km from where Gurdaspur SP Singh was waylaid and assaulted on Friday morning.
The NSG commandos were rushed to the air force base and the army cantonment at Mamoon after they arrived in Punjab, and a major search operation was launched. They were battle-ready when terrorists attacked the air force base.
As police cordoned off the area that resembled a war zone, army and air force personnel swung into action alongside the NSG forces, a source told HT in the wake of the attack reminiscent of the Gurdaspur strike last year.
In July, heavily armed men in army fatigues sprayed bullets on a moving bus and stormed Dinanagar police station in Gurdaspur district bordering Pakistan, killing six people and injuring eight.
DIG (border) Kunwar Vijay Pratap Singh said helicopters were dispatched for assistance in the operation.
Reports suggested the terrorists were contained in a non-operational area of the air force base.
The attack came close on the heels of an upswing in India-Pakistan ties after Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a surprise trip to Lahore last month and held talks with his Pakistani counterpart, Nawaz Sharif.
“Pakistan is our neighbour and we want peace, but any terrorist attack on India will get a befitting response,” home minister Rajnath Singh said.
Top security officials, including National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, held a meeting in New Delhi in the aftermath of Saturday’s attack, media reports said.
Punjab was put on maximum alert while security measures were also tightened in neighbouring Haryana, the common capital of the two states – Chandigarh, and national capital Delhi.
Source: Hindustan Times