Pathankot (NDTV), Jan 2: Fresh gunshots have been heard at the Pathankot air force base in Punjab, where terrorists have launched an attack around 3.30 on Saturday and killed seven people including three soldiers. The shots were heard as combing operations started and it is suspected that more terrorists are hiding on the premises. Four terrorists and three soldiers have already been killed in the gun battle.
The attack is suspected to have been carried out by the terror outfit Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM). Sources say the attackers were from Bhawalpur in Pakistan and were ordered to blow up the helicopters stationed at the base.
With the attack coming within 10 days of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s goodwill visit to Pakistan, home minister Rajnath Singh said, “We want good ties with Pakistan but a befitting reply will be given to any terror attack.”
Intelligence inputs had warned about a possibility of an attack at Pathankot — a key air base for MiG-21 Bison fighters and Mi-35 attack helicopters, located 50 km from the border with Pakistan.
The terrorists were contained in periphery of the air base. The area where fighter aircraft and helicopters are kept is safe, officials said.
The terrorists had entered the air base in an official vehicle. They were wearing military uniform. Sources say the vehicle they used was the car of the Superintendent of Police of Gurdaspur that was hijacked in Pathankot yesterday.
Sources say the men in army fatigues, who had driven away with the police officer’s car after assaulting him, had used his phone to contact their handlers in Pakistan. The call was intercepted by intelligence agencies, following which an alert was issued.
Following the warning, sources say, the National Security Advisor held an urgent meeting with senior officials late last night.
Commandos of the National Security Guard, Special Forces of the Indian Army and additional soldiers were moved to strengthen the defences of the base after directions came from the Prime Minister’s Office.
Earlier, Former chief minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Omar Abdullah, had tweeted, “That was quick. Here’s the first major challenge to the PM Modi’s bold Pakistan gambit.”
Today’s attack comes six months after another terror strike in Punjab’s Gurdaspur, when three terrorists equipped with grenades and AK-47s opened fire in Dinanagar killing three civilians. The terrorists were shot dead after a 12-hour long gun-battle.