Clashes continue at Indian air base

Troops still fighting two suspected militants at Indian air base following fatal attack

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Indian army soldiers stand guard near the Indian Air Force (IAF) base at Pathankot in Punjab, India on January 3, 2016

Indian troops on Sunday evening continue fighting at least 2 suspected militants following Saturday’s attack on an Indian Air Force base near the Pakistan border, a senior government official said.

The two gunmen were discovered shortly after noon on Sunday, Home Secretary Rajiv Mehrishi told reporters, adding that he expected them to be "neutralised" soon.

The gun battle on Saturday went on for 15 hours after militants disguised as soldiers managed to enter the Pathankot Air Base in the northwestern state of Punjab.

At least 11 people have been killed in the battle so far.

The bodies of the four gunmen were found, but there were no reports on the remains of the fifth attacker being recovered.

Among the seven Indian security personnel who were killed, there was also a top army officer and a gold medal-winning shooter.

Air Force spokeswoman Rochelle D'Silva said that three wounded soldiers died in a hospital on Sunday, as others were being treated.

"Nine are being treated in hospital and are stable," she said.    

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack yet, however some officials said that they believe the Jaish-e-Mohammed militant group, which is active in the Kashmir region, could be behind the assault.

Pathankot Police Chief Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh official said troops will continue to work to clear the compound of militants or munitions.

"We apprehend there might be more bombs at the site. It will take time to clear the area," Singh told AFP. "We are still on alert."   

The attack came just a week after India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi made an unscheduled visit to meet Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Pakistan.

The two leaders are looking to revive dialogue to end the insurgency in the region.  

India accuses Pakistan of backing the insurgency to merge with Pakistan, but Islamabad denies such claims.

Over 68,000 people have been killed so far since the violence began in 1989.

TRTWorld and agencies