Guns fall silent at Pathankot IAF base

All six suspected Pak terrorists killed after 80-hour operations by security men

Wednesday 06th January 2016 05:08 EST

All six terrorists who attacked the Pathankot airbase have been killed after an over 80 hour-operations by the security forces. India's defence Minister Manohar Parrikar who was present at the airbase, accompanied by Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha and Army chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag, said that the four-day operation to secure the compound was still under way. Addressing reporters, he said, the Indian security forces “have done an excellent job containing these highly motivated terrorists. NIA already has started the investigation. Since the operation is still on, I would not like to conclude on that and let NIA collect information,” Parrikar said. “Security personnel killed in the attack will get 'battle casualty status' and all its benefits. I see some gaps, that will be cleared after the investigation is over. But I don't think we have made any compromise on security,” he added

Intelligence officials have attributed the attack to Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Muhammad, on the basis of intercepted phone calls made by a member of the assault team. The terrorists who struck the airbase at Pathankot in the wee hours of January 2, are said to have entered the defence organisation during the afternoon of the previous day. Punjab police, security forces and central intelligence agencies, who were aware of the situation, had alerted New Delhi about the possible attack saying the terrorists seemed to have infiltrated into Punjab. Home Ministry officials said a full-scale alert was ordered late on Friday evening after information emerged that five armed men had hijacked a vehicle used by a Punjab Police officer. National Security Advisor Ajit Doval ordered an élite unit of the National Security Guard to be moved to Pathankot, in anticipation of a possible attack on the IAF base.

Senior defence officials said the attackers were holed up inside one of the vacant barracks of the Defence Security Corps (DSC) till Sunday evening and the Indian defence forces had destroyed the building after which the firing stopped from the fidayeen. “The operation is on. Given the magnitude and size of the airbase (15 sq. miles), the entire operation is likely to take a long time. That will be till all our personal and strategic assets are safe,” NSG IG Major General Dushyant Singh told reporters in the midst of the operation. Air officer commanding (AOC) J S Dhamoon said the base “is like a city in itself with schools, residential quarters and shops and all of that is secured.” Air Force officials said that on Sunday, the last batch of attackers were contained in one part of the base, far away from the residential section and key installations.

The operations costed India seven security personnel, including Lieutenant Colonel E K Niranjan, head of the elite bomb squad of the National Security Guard. Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi and assured him support in Pathankot investigations. Condemning the attack, he told Modi that Pakistan will stand by India in fighting terror. NSA Ajit Doval shared 'leads' with his Pak counterpart and has sought credible action on them. The neighbouring country's foreign office released a statement on January 4, saying it is working on the leads shared by India.

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