Anti-terror operation in Pathankot air base has entered fourth day and is expected to take another day till the entire site is thoroughly sanitised and secured. Addressing the press Tuesday afternoon, Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar told that six terrorists have been killed in the operation. Even as the search and combing operation at the air base is still on, the authorities will be conducting a DNA test on two bodies of the suspected terrorist to have strictest possible confirmation of their identity.
“Six terrorist have been neutralised…the combing operation to end by tomorrow (Wednesday)… several rounds of ammunition and firearms were recovered from the dead terrorists,” Parrikar told in his first ever presser in the matter.
While he admitted some security related “gaps”, the Union Defence minister assured that all air force assets are safe and secured. “mujhey kuchh gaps lagte hain (I think there were some gaps ) but I must say we didn’t compromise on the security,” he said.
“My worry is how did they come inside the (air base). Though I congratulate our security forces for the operation, but I am worried on how they managed to come in…. Our investigations are on. Let NIA complete their investigation,” Manohar Parrikar added.
Manohar Parrikar visited Pathankot Air Base on Tuesday along with Chief Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha and Chief of Army staff General Dalbir Singh Suhag.
The air base in Punjab’s northern district was attack by the terrorists, whose actual numbers are still under probe, in the early hours Saturday and only after near four days of intense counter-terror offensive by the security personnel, NSG and police the situation came under control.
The firing at the air force base finally ceased this morning after six gunmen were killed. Seven security personnel too had lost their lives in the attack.
Among the security personnel killed, Lieutenant Colonel Niranjan of the NSG, a member of elite force’s Bomb Disposal Squad, succumbed to injuries on Sunday taking the toll to seven. Lt. Col. Niranjan sustained the fatal injury while retrieving a live grenade from the body of a dead terrorist at the scene of the terror attack. One Garud commando and five other personnel of Defence Security Corps (DSC) too have been martyred in the operation. Seventeen other security personnel were also injured.
The authorities had first believed that the operations were over but on Sunday morning gunfire resumed after which five companies of army along with JCB bulldozers were sent to the area to speed up the operation against the terrorists.
Pathankot area was on a high alert since January 1 after the twin incident of Punjab SP’s carjacking and the killing of one driver in the region. Soon after those incidents, intelligence and security set-up had begun preparing based on the inputs that infiltration has taken place from Gurdaspur sector and the target is Pathankot area.
According the initial investigations, the militants are believed to have entered the air base premises using the woody area. One of the groups of DSC was ambushed by the terrorists. From there, the gunmen forced their way inside the DSC mess opening indiscriminate firing.
(With inputs from the PTI)