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7 dead in India air base gun attack

At least four gunmen and two Indian Air Force (IAF) personnel were killed Saturday in an attack on an air force base in the northern state of Punjab, close to the worldwide border with Pakistan, India’s official broadcaster All India Radio (AIR) said.

“At this point, there’s sufficient goodwill in India-Pakistan relations to weather this attack”.

Indian security forces intercepted the gunmen, and two of the militants died in the ensuing gunfight.

Intelligence officials said that the terrorists involved in the fidayeen attack could be from the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Muhammed (JeM) terror outfit.

Indian security force personnel stand outside an attacked Indian air force base in Pathankot of Indian state of Punjab, Jan. 2, 2016.

“Due to the effective preparation and coordinated efforts by all the security agencies a group of terrorists were detected by the aerial surveillance platforms as soon as they entered the Air Force Station at Pathankot”, the ministry said in a statement.

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi tweeted: “Strongly condemn terrorist attack on Pathankot Air Force base”.

Earlier in the day while speaking to exclusively to ANI, Rajnath condemned the attack and said that the Army, the National Security Guard (NSG) and the Punjab Police were giving a befitting reply in the operation underway in Pathankot.

However, Saturday’s pre-dawn attack was much more audacious in targeting a large military facility, from which India’s Russian-made fleet of MiG-21 fighter jets and Mi-35 attack helicopters fly.

Indian officials and media blame Pakistan-based militants for the attack.

Rebels routinely stage attacks in Indian-held Kashmir, where they’ve been fighting since 1989 for an independent Kashmir or its merger with Pakistan.

It comes one week after Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid a surprise visit to Pakistan, the first by an Indian premier in 11 years, with Saturday’s attack threatening to derail a nascent peace process between the nuclear-armed rivals. The two heads of government also had an unscheduled meeting at the Paris climate change talks. The foreign secretaries of both nations are scheduled to meet in Islamabad later this month. “Talks will take place keeping terror as the key issue”, he said in New Delhi.

“I congratulate our armed forces and other security forces on successfully neutralising all the five terrorists in ‘Pathankot Operation”.

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