Indian security forces have killed five militants so far in the attack, said Major General Dushyant Singh, of India’s counter-terrorism force, the National Security Guard.
“A total of six terrorists have been killed, but every inch of the air base has to be secured before we call off the operation”, said the official in New Delhi, who requested anonymity.
Three days on, security forces today neutralised two more terrorists holed up in the Pathankot air base as the attack raised questions over the fate of the Foreign Secretary level talks with Pakistan next week.
Indian troops backed by helicopters searched an air force base on Monday after a weekend of fierce fighting with suspected Islamic insurgents in which seven soldiers and at least four attackers were killed.
An army statement said the last gunmen were firing from a building that is part of the living quarters on the base. Five terrorists have also been eliminated and at least one more is believed to be in the huge complex.
“If Pakistani nationals are found to be involved in the attack, the information should be shared with Pakistani authorities as quickly as possible”, the Dawn said in an editorial.
Local news-gathering service Current News Service (CNS) said Monday that Kashmiri militants associated with the “Highway Squad” and attacked the airbase, citing UJC spokesman Syed Sadaqat Hussain.
Although there were no claims of responsibility for the two incidents, the timings pointed to a deliberate effort by Islamic radicals to sabotage peace initiatives in the region.
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.
Given the size of the base – 1,600 acres – the Indian security forces have since been sanitizing the entire campus. The operation will continue till the combing of the entire area is completed.
The meet was followed by the security advisers of Pakistan and India meeting in Bangkok a week later following which the India’s External Affairs minister visited Pakistan to attend the Heart of Asia conference during which the two sides announced the resumption of talks. “India and Pakistan are important countries in South Asia”.
The attack – a rare targeting of an Indian military installation outside disputed Kashmir – may have been meant to undermine improving relations with Pakistan after a landmark visit to the country by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi last month.
Sources also said the level of training of the Pathankot terrorists seems even better than that of the Mumbai 26/11 attackers, and that a professional army had trained them.
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